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Kalamazoo — Buffalo was finally challenged in conference play  and coach Nate Oats wasn’t thrilled with how his team handled it.

Jeremy Harris had 22 points and 11 rebounds, and the 16th-ranked Bulls held off upset-minded Western Michigan, 88-79, on Tuesday night, but this game was close throughout after Buffalo won its first three Mid-American Conference games by a combined 70 points.

“It’s as close as we’ve had in a while,” Oats said. “It’s not the worst thing to happen to us, but we’ve got to fix some stuff. We’re not headed the right direction.”

Nick Perkins added 14 points for the Bulls (16-1, 4-0), who trailed by 11 in the first half and struggled to shake free from the Broncos until the very end. The Bulls led by just four when star guard CJ Massinburg  who had been scoreless in the second half  connected from 3-point range to make it 86-79 with under 90 seconds remaining.

The Broncos (6-11, 0-4) went on a 15-0 run in the first half and led 33-22, but Buffalo rebounded quickly and led 43-39 at halftime.

“When they needed to, they got to the free throw line, or they got to layups,” WMU coach Steve Hawkins said. “Kudos to them. They did what they had to do.”

The Bulls led 69-68 when Perkins and Ronaldo Segu made consecutive 3-pointers. Buffalo pushed the lead to nine, but WMU answered with seven straight points to make it 77-75.

Josh Davis scored 24 points for Western Michigan.

More state men

(At) Akron 51, Eastern Michigan 49: Daniel Utomi and Jimond Ivey scored 12 points each and Akron held on despite poor shooting from both teams late.

Eastern Michigan (8-9, 2-2 MAC) shot 2 of 9 from the floor and had a turnover over the last five minutes while the Zips (10-7, 2-2) missed three field goals and a free throw, and turned the ball over four times.

Utomi made a 3-pointer to put the Zips up for good, 46-45, with 6:30 to play. Ivey dunked to stretch the lead to 48-45, then Malik Ellison’s layup pulled Eastern Michigan to 48-47 with 4:31 remaining.

Paul Jackson’s layup for the Eagles capped the scoring with 42 seconds to go. On the next possession, James Thompson IV blocked a shot and grabbed a defensive rebound for Eastern Michigan, but Ty Groce missed a potential-tying layup with five seconds left.

Boubacar Toure scored 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for Eastern Michigan. Paul Jackson added 15 points, five assists and four steals. Thompson finished with six points and 11 rebounds.

Central Michigan 78, (at) Northern Illinois 69: Shawn Roundtree hit five 3-pointers and scored 21 points and David DiLeo added 18 points with five 3s as Central Michigan pulled away late.

A DiLeo 3-pointer capped a 13-2 run for an 11-point lead early in the second half as the Chippewas were 7 of 9 from distance. Levi Bradley’s jumper tied it at 63 with 5:53 left, but the Huskies got no closer from there. Rob Montgomery and Roundtree combined for eight in a 10-0 run for a 76-65 lead with 48 seconds left.

Montgomery scored 16 points and Kevin McKay added 10 for Central Michigan (14-2, 3-1 MAC), which made 13 of 29 3s but was outscored 40-26 in the paint.

Bradley scored 27 points, Dante Thorpe added 18 and German had 13 for the Huskies (10-7, 3-1), who saw their three-game win streak end.

Big Ten

(At) Purdue 89, Rutgers 54: Carsen Edwards had 19 points, six assists and five rebounds, Trevion Williams had 16 points and 13 rebounds and Sasha Stefanovic added 14 points for Purdue (11-6, 4-2 Big Ten), which has won five of six.

Montez Mathis scored 19 points, Shaq Carter had 10 points and seven rebounds and Geo Baker had 10 points and five rebounds as Rutgers (8-8, 1-5) played its second straight game without leading scorer and rebounder Eugene Omoruyi. He was out again with a knee injury suffered against Ohio State last week.

After a 9-0 run before halftime, Purdue scored nine straight points — two 3-pointers by Ryan Cline and another by Edwards — early in the second half to pull away for good.

Cline’s 3-pointer with 17:48 remaining put the Boilermakers ahead 49-32, but Purdue led by as many as 40 (83-43) when Aaron Wheeler made two free throws with 4:51 to play.

Top 25

(At) No. 4 Virginia 81, No. 9 Virginia Tech 59: De’Andre Hunter scored 21 points and Ty Jerome had 14 and a career-high 12 assists as Virginia started fast and routed 9 Virginia Tech.

Kyle Guy added 15 points for the Cavaliers (16-0, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), who never trailed in the first meeting of the programs in which both were ranked in the top 10. Virginia also remained one of two unbeaten teams in the country along with Michigan, which was idle.

Nickeil Alexander-Walker scored 19 points and Ahmed Hill 14 to lead Virginia Tech (14-2, 3-1), which was seeking the first 15-1 start in program history. The Hokies also hoped to repeat last year’s 61-60 overtime victory at John Paul Jones Arena, but they trailed by double figures after 12 minutes and never got within single digits the rest of the way.

(At) No. 3 Tennessee 106, Arkansas 87: Lamonte’ Turner and Jordan Bowden combined to score 40 points off the bench, and Tennessee whipped Arkansas for its 11th consecutive victory.

Turner scored 21 points and hit 6 of 8 shots. Bowden was 6-of-7 shooting and 5 of 6 from 3-point range en route to 19 points, and Tennessee’s bench outscored Arkansas’ 50-23.

Tennessee last won 11 straight in the 2007-08 season. Tennessee (15-1, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) is off to its fastest start since that 2007-08 campaign, when the Vols won 16 of their first 17.

Isaiah Joe scored 23 points, Mason Jones had 18, Reggie Chaney 11 and Daniel Gafford 10 for Arkansas (10-6, 1-3).

No. 10 Nevada 72, (at) Boise State 71: Cody Martin hit a 3-pointer with 4.5 seconds remaining to help Nevada beat Boise State.

Boise State (8-9, 3-1) had a chance to win it, but Justinian Jessup’s long 3-point heave at the buzzer fell short.

Nevada seemed to have the game on cruise control early in the second half, never allowing the Broncos to get any closer than seven points, but the Wolf Pack (17-1, 4-1) remained in constant foul trouble. Starters Trey Porter and Caleb Martin were on the bench with four fouls with just over nine minutes remaining in the game.

No. 12 Kentucky 69, (at) Georgia 49: Ashton Hagans silenced a hostile crowd by scoring a season-high 23 points, leading Kentucky over Georgia.

The Wildcats (13-3, 3-1 SEC) pulled away in the second half for their third straight victory.

Hagans, a freshman who initially committed to Georgia out of high school but wound up signing with Kentucky, was booed by the sellout crowd at Stegeman Coliseum each time he touched the ball.

Georgia (9-7, 1-3) led by five in the opening minutes before going to the locker room down 35-31.

(At) No. 13 North Carolina 75, Notre Dame 69: Nassir Little scored all 11 of his points in the final 11 minutes, Coby White had 17 points, Luke Maye added 14 points and 10 rebounds and Cameron Johnson finished with 11 points for North Carolina (13-4, 3-1 ACC). UNC used a late 12-1 run to bounce back from its most lopsided home loss under Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams.

Prentiss Hubb scored 18 points, John Mooney had 16 points and 19 rebounds, and D.J. Harvey added 15 points for the Fighting Irish (11-6, 1-3).

No. 15 Marquette 74, (at) Georgetown 71: Sam Hauser scored a career-high 31 points, Theo John tied a career-high with 14 points and Marquette held on to beat Georgetown despite Markus Howard — the nation’s fourth leading scorer — playing just three scoreless minutes due to lower back tightness.

John blocked Georgetown’s James Akinjo’s drive with four seconds left as Marquette (15-3, 4-1) won its fourth straight game.

Georgetown (12-6, 2-3) was led by Mac McClung with 24 points while Jessie Govan added 14 points and nine rebounds. McClung’s desperation 3-point heave from half court was off the mark.

(At) Wake Forest 71, No. 17 N.C. State 67: Freshman Jaylen Hoard had 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Wake Forest blew a 22-point lead before recovering in time to top North Carolina State.

Graduate transfer Torry Johnson added 11 points for the Demon Deacons (8-8, 1-3 ACC). That included a critical jumper with 1:19 left in a one-point game, along with two free throws with 13.3 seconds left that helped the Demon Deacons (barely) survive a wild night in Winston-Salem.

Wake Forest led 42-27 at halftime, and then 51-29 with a flurry out of the break. But the Wolfpack (14-3, 2-2) made a move with 15 straight points to get back in it, and then fought all the way back to tie it at 58 on Devon Daniels’ floater with 7:46 left.

LSU 83, (at) No. 18 Ole Miss 69: Tremont Waters scored 20 points and Kavell Bigby-Williams had 14 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks for LSU.

LSU (13-3, 3-0 SEC) used an early 8-0 run in the second half to take a 48-39 lead. The Tigers maintained a healthy advantage from that point, playing tight defense and forcing several turnovers.

Ole Miss (13-3, 3-1) had its 10-game winning streak snapped. The Rebels hadn’t lost since Nov. 24, when they fell 71-57 to Cincinnati. Terence Davis led Ole Miss with 21 points and 10 rebounds.

(At) No. 24 Mississippi State 71, Florida 68: Quinndary Weatherspoon converted a three-point play with 3.4 seconds left to lift Mississippi State over Florida.

Lamar Peters scored all 16 of his points in the first half, and Tyson Carter added 12 for Mississippi State (13-3, 1-2 SEC).

KeVaughn Allen had 17 points for Florida (9-7, 1-3), and Andrew Nembhard had 13 points. Noah Locke had 12 points for the Gators, who had won eight straight against Mississippi State.

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