If you were a fan of either team in last nights Buffalo Central Michigan game then your ability to remain zen about adversity was tested. The Bulls started out slow and later, after building up a huge lead, they simply refused to put the away the Chippewas. Every time UB would bury Central Michigan under a lead of ten or more points the Bulls would quietly disappear for the next five minutes and, in the process, let the Chips climb back even.
The Chips were able to hang around in part because they were very stingy with the Ball.
CMU turned it over only four times while at the same time benefiting from Buffalo coughing it up 14 times. That 10 turnover differential, and some truly horrid free throw shooting, was all the Chips needed to keep pace with Buffalo.
It was infuriating for UB fans and I am sure equally for those nine hundred or so Chips fans in attendance. Buffalo would run, Central would run, Buffalo would run, central would run. On and on it went all night this is sort of what it looked like.
Time for three points...
1) Missing Free throws is not cute, not even when you're up 13
The Bulls missed six free throws in the last four minutes of the first half. They went into the break up thirteen, so six missed free throws seemed like an annoying, not critical. But going just one for eight in the first half nearly costs us the game.
The Bulls were a bit more presentable at the line in the second half but even then they missed so many late free throws that could have put the game away.
2) Auraum Nuiriankh is Quickly becoming one of the most important guys on the floor.
Filzen is a great player but in non conference play we all say what can happen when he has no outside support. Teams lock down on him and he gets cold.
The injection of Auraum into the starting lineup has really taken some pressure off of FIlzen. How much of a factor has he been? His three point shooting percentage actually exceeds Zach by a few percentage points.
He's not as likely to be the guy who takes six plus shots from downtown but he has hit so many momentum shifting shots lately that Dave Barnett's new moniker, "Big Shot", could easily also apply to Nuiriankh.
3) The West is not going down without a fight
Throughout the conference teams from the east were losing or fighting for dear life. Last nights victims were Miami and Ohio. In the games where the Eastern teams won it was a factor of better depth and better play in the last five minutes or so. Akron needed overtime in Kalamazoo, Bowling green and Ball State changes leads all night, and Kent was down early to EMU.
Ohio's loss moves the Bulls into second place in the Mid American conference with six conference games to go. This season the number one and two MAC teams receive a coveted "double bye" into the semi finals, teams three and four get a single by into the quarters and the other eight teams have conference games.