Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
Buffalo gets their first ever win against a nationally ranked opponent, avenges an early season loss, and rights their ship all while doing what no other MAC team has managed this season.
Akron rode into Buffalo with every reason to win. The Zips were riding a 19 game winning streak and sat undefeated in conference play. In their most recent contest against Ohio they seemingly put down the only team in the MAC playing at their level. But UB has a way of playing teams hard in Alumni Arena and tonight more than four thousand fans saw the Bulls play their most complete game of the season. The result was the biggest upset in MAC play this season.
Javon McCrea discovered a mid range jump shot which helped the UB star to pile up 26 points against the Zips but his biggest play was a slick pass to Will Regan in the late stages which sealed the UB victory. Will regan, the "unsung hero" score 16 points and pulled down seven rebounds. But Regan's biggest contributions may have been on defense where he had three blocks and seemed to be constantly frustrating Akron's efforts down low.
Tony Watson continued his hot hand from beyond the arc where he shot 3-6. He was also a perfect 4-4 from the line and totaled 13 points.
For Akron it was the Zeke Marshall show. In 31 minutes Marshall put up 17 points, pulled down six rebounds, and piled up five blocks on the defensive side of the Ball. The Zips also got healthy contributions from Demetrius Treadwell and Alex Abreu who each scored 14 points.
For the most part UB led from beginning to end with the zips leading 17-15 mid way through the first and then tying the game in the early stages of the second half. But for every run the Zips put together UB seemed to have an answer.
In the first half is was blistering three point shooting.The Bulls went 7-14 as a team with big contributions from Regan, Jarryn Skeete, and Tony Watson. In the second half UB stayed out of foul trouble and put Akron over a barrel at the free throw line.
UB hit 18 of 23 free throw shots while Akron converted on seven of their 12 opportunities. Doubling up on free throws was enough overcome a slight rebounding deficit.
With the Win UB held onto its tie with Kent State and Eastern Michigan in the competition for that fourth bye in the MAC tournament.
Three Point Shot
Point One - A test of discipline and endurance
Look at these minutes... Watson and Skeete put in 40 minutes tonight. McCrea put in 37, Regan 36, Auraum Nuiriankh 32. Auraum would have put in closer to 36 or 37 if he was not ejected along with Akron's Deji Ibitayo at the four minute mark. Outside of that only three other players saw the floor, and they were there for an average of five minutes each.
Akron on the other hand nine players put in more than ten minutes and only Marshall put in more than 30.
Buffalo needed those minutes because nobody in the conference is as deep as Akron. Had UB not had the conditioning, or gotten into foul trouble, this would have been a very different game. It was a tough physical contest and outside of Nuiriankh nobody in blue and white lost their cool.
Point Two - The Little Things
UB was 7-17 from three point range. That 21 points helped but perhaps not as much as the 18 points they were given by Akron. UB shot 80% at the line and that put more pressure on a zips team that was in foul trouble.
On the flip side UB went well into the second half without getting anywhere near giving Akron the bonus. That let the Bulls continue a tough defensive effort long enough to thwart Akron's attempts to come back.
Point Three - We can beat anyone
I'm still waiting to see this kind of game played over an extended period. The best UB can hope for is a single bye to Cleveland which would mean winning three games to go Dancing. Three games like this in a row may be doable but remember, if youre in the bottom seeds you need five to win it all. That is a huge difference.
Special Edition - Three and One
There has been talk that McCrea might not be the Player of the year, tonight he went head to head with one of the guys being held up over him. Javon did not disappoint. There is no way, none, that McCrea has not done enough this season in every aspect of the game to be called the best player in the league, and certainly the most important to his team.
|Demetrius Treadwell, F||25||7-15||0-0||0-0||0||4||3||1||0||2||0||14|
|Nick Harney, F||25||3-9||0-4||0-2||2||3||2||1||0||2||1||6|
|Zeke Marshall, C||31||8-13||0-0||1-2||4||6||0||3||5||3||2||17|
|Brian Walsh, G||22||2-5||2-4||0-0||0||4||0||1||0||1||3||6|
|Alex Abreu, G||31||4-15||1-8||5-5||1||2||3||1||0||2||2||14|
|Deji Ibitayo, NA||10||1-1||0-0||1-1||0||2||0||0||0||0||4||3|
|Carmelo Betancourt, G||12||1-2||0-0||0-0||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||2|
|Blake Justice, G||1||0-0||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Jake Kretzer, G-F||21||1-4||1-4||0-0||2||3||0||1||0||0||3||3|
|Reggie McAdams, G-F||13||0-1||0-1||0-0||2||3||0||0||0||0||2||0|
|Chauncey Gilliam, F||1||0-1||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Pat Forsythe, C||8||1-3||0-0||0-2||2||3||0||0||0||0||4||2|
|Javon McCrea, F||37||13-18||0-0||0-1||2||6||2||3||4||2||1||26|
|Tony Watson II, G||40||3-8||3-6||4-4||0||2||6||0||0||3||2||13|
|Jarryn Skeete, G||40||5-8||2-4||6-6||0||6||5||1||0||1||4||18|
|Auraum Nuiriankh, G-F||32||1-2||0-1||0-1||1||6||5||1||1||2||4||2|
|Raphell Thomas-Edwards, F||6||0-1||0-0||3-4||0||2||0||0||0||0||0||3|
|Corey Raley-Ross, G||2||0-0||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0|
|Cameron Downing, C||7||1-2||0-0||1-2||1||2||0||0||0||1||1||3|