Ypsilanti — Nick Perkins has a good idea of how the rest of the Mid-American Conference feels about facing Buffalo this season.
“When you’ve got a national ranking, everybody wants to beat you,” the 6-foot-8 senior said.
The 20th-ranked Bulls were ready for their first MAC test of 2018-19. Montell McRae scored a career-high 18 points and Perkins added 15 to lift Buffalo to an easy 74-58 win over Eastern Michigan on Friday night.
CJ Massinburg added 12 points for Buffalo. McRae scored 12 of his points in the first half, helping the Bulls (13-1, 1-0) through a sluggish start against the EMU zone defense.
Buffalo trailed 15-11 before going on a 19-4 run. It was 33-23 at halftime.
McRae’s first-half scoring came on three dunks and a pair of 3-pointers. The 6-foot-10 senior finished 8 of 9 from the field and surpassed his previous career high of 13 points.
“Somebody needed to find a spark, and I guess it was me tonight,” McRae said. “I got us rolling.”
Elijah Minnie led EMU (6-8, 0-1) with 21 points.
“We were more excited playing Buffalo than when we played Duke, in my opinion,” said EMU’s James Thompson IV, who had 11 points and 12 rebounds. “We’ve got the crowd, everybody was hype. We didn’t look at Buffalo like they were No. 20. We looked at them like we play them every year.”
Massinburg had a quiet game offensively, but he did sink a couple late 3-pointers in the first half, including one in the final seconds that gave the Bulls a 10-point lead.
(At) Oakland 74, Detroit Mercy 67: Chloe Guingrich had 21 points and 16 rebounds and Taylor Jones had 11 points, 16 assists and nine rebounds as Oakland held on to beat Detroit Mercy.
Oakland (4-10, 1-2 Horizon League) jumped out to a 44-21 halftime lead over its chief rival, though Detroit Mercy (2-12, 0-3) made it interesting in the final quarter with 31 points.
“I was really proud of how our team came out in the first half,” Oakland coach Jeff Tungate said. “Give Detroit credit. They battled until the end.
“We have to do a better job closing out games.”
Autumn Kissman added 16 points and seven rebounds for Oakland, and Kayla Luchenbach had 13 points on 6-for-7 shooting.
For Detroit Mercy, Zoey Oatis and Brittney Jackson each had 16 points, Jess Bicknell had 15 points, and Ashley Miller had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Oakland shot 46.2 percent (30-for-65) to just 33.8 percent (22-for-65) for Detroit Mercy.
The teams will play again at Calihan Hall on Feb. 9.
Penn State coach suspended
Penn State suspended coach Pat Chambers for one game following an incident during Thursday’s 68-55 loss at Michigan.
Chambers was seen shoving one of his players, Myles Dread, during a timeout.
“I apologized to Myles after the game and I have spoken with his family. My actions were inappropriate; that’s not what Penn State stands for or what I stand for,” Chambers said in a statement. “I told Myles I was sorry that it happened. Sandy (Barbour, athletic director) and I have spoken and agreed there are some things I need to address. I’ve assured her this won’t happen again and understand my actions last night come with consequences.”
Chambers will miss Sunday’s game against Wisconsin.
At Saturday’s Oakland-Wright State game (3 p.m.), Oakland will host its annual mitten toss.
... Connecticut forward Kassoum Yakwe is expected to miss the remainder of the season with a fracture in his right foot.
... Bob Burrow, a two-time All-American whose per-game average of 17.7 rebounds remains a Kentucky single-season record, has died. He was 84.