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Dec. 22, 2007
EL PASO, Tex. - Sean Smiley finished with 14 points and nailed two crucial three-pointers in the second half to help push Buffalo to an 80-66 victory over USC Upstate in the consolation game of the State Farm Sun Bowl Tournament at the Haskins Center.
Upstate falls to 2-10 on the year. The Spartans travel to Pittsburgh, Pa., Dec. 30 to take on Duquesne. Buffalo improves to 6-5.
Upstate opened the game with four straight points to open a 4-0 lead before Buffalo got on the board on Andy Robinson's three-pointer. The Spartans then rattled off seven straight points to open an 11-3 lead with 14:44 to play in the half.
Buffalo battled back by outscoring Upstate 16-5 over the next five minutes and took a 19-16 lead on Robinson's three-pointer with 9:56 to play before the half.
Upstate got within one, 19-18, but Buffalo used a 9-0 run to take a 28-18 lead on Vadim Fedotov's layup with 7:14 to play. Upstate turned up the defensive pressure, getting three steals on three straight Buffalo possessions and went on a 6-0 run to cut the lead to 28-24. Buffalo answered with five straight points to push the lead back to nine with 4:58 to go.
Despite Upstate's efforts to get back into the game by cutting the deficit to four points, Buffalo was able to push the lead back to nine points at the half, taking a 43-34 lead into the locker room.
Upstate battled back in the second half to methodically cut into the lead. However, Sean Smiley's back-to-back three-pointers pushed the lead to 12 points with just under 12 minutes to play. Byron Mulkey's three-pointer with 10:46 to play gave Buffalo its biggest lead of the night, to that point, at 13.
Buffalo increased the lead to 17 points, but Upstate continued to battle, rattling off nine unanswered points to cut the lead to eight with just over five minutes to play in the game. Payne's three-pointer with 4:44 to play got Upstate within seven, 66-59. Payne hit two free throws to get the Spartans within six, 67-61, with 4:06 to play. Payne scored nine straight points for Upstate.
Despite Upstate's valiant effort, Buffalo pushed the lead to 12 points with 1:16 to play in the game to take the win.
Payne led Upstate with a career-high 26 points. He also grabbed five rebounds and dished out three assists ans was named to the All-Tournament team. It marks his second All-Tournament selection following similar honors at the BP Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska. Davis added 13 points and six boards.
Robinson led Buffalo with 18 points, while Rodney Pierce added 13 in the win.