Don McPeak-US PRESSWIRE
Ohio prevails as Buffalo Falters down the stretch
The difference between the great players and the best players is that the best players hit clutch shots as a matter of habit. Today D.J. Cooper put an iron grip on the MAC player of the year debate. With his team up by a point late Cooper hit a long three that was the fatal blow to a Buffalo Bulls squad that can't seem to do anything right during the last several minutes of a game.
Buffalo opened up on fire in the first half building a strong 9 point lead before Javon McCrea had to sit because of foul trouble. McCrea took his second foul with about seven minutes left in the first half and Ohio publed UB for the remainder of the first half. The Bobcats swung 14 points from a nine point deficit to a five point lead at the half.
Cooper was red hot from long range against the Bulls scoring at will in the first half and totaling 24 on the game. Ivo Baltic came off the bench for 30 minutes of play scoring 12 points on 6-12 from the floor.
The Bulls got solid performances out of McCrea, Regan, and Watson who score 19, 20, and 11 respectively. But Regan's five turnovers, and six more by Jarryn Skeete helped bloat UB to 18 turnovers from which the Bobcats Yielded more than 20 points.
Despite the struggles UB surged back in the second half erasing their own nin point deficit, building it to a six point lead with 3:51 left in the game. And that's where the Bulls fell apart.
Up 69 to 63 with Javon McCrea at the line the game seemed to UB's. The Bulls were hot and creeping up on the double bonus. McCrea missed the free throw but Will Regan scored a great Rebound. The Bulls then tried to work the clock but committed an ugly turnover which Ohio quickly ran down the floor.
Will Regan followed that up with one of the most bizarre turnovers I have ever seen. Regan stepped over the end line while looking for an inbound pass. Ohio took tat turnover and quickly converted for two more.
Just like that UB went from shooting to build on a six point lead to clinging to a narrow two point margin. from that point on the Bulls would miss the front end of a one and one, commit 4 turnovers, and go 0 for 3 from the field.
Ohio, on the other hand hit their shots and escaped Amherst with a 3 narrow three point win.
The Loss eliminated the Bulls from a chance to get a bye to Cleveland but are still well positioned for a home play in game to the MAC tournament. Their regular season closes on the road against Bowling Green.
Correction: Because Toledo is banned from post season participation this season the MAC #5 seed gets a single by into Cleveland. Buffalo can still in that seed.
Three Point Shot
Point One - Gone in 240 seconds!
Another game another very weak last five minutes from this team. What separates teams that win conferences from those that are just competitive is consistent clutch play. Buffalo has the talent to beat anyone in the conference on a given day but they are not a good enough team at the end of a game to win those games consistently enough to run a conference tournament.
|3:51||Javon McCrea made Layup|
|3:51||Javon McCrea missed Free Throw.|
|3:51||Will Regan Offensive Rebound.|
|3:24||Jarryn Skeete Turnover.|
|3:13||Will Regan Turnover.|
|3:09||Foul on Javon McCrea|
|3:09||Tony Watson II Defensive Rebound.|
|2:38||Tony Watson II missed Three Point Jumper.|
|2:29||Will Regan Defensive Rebound.|
|2:08||Javon McCrea Turnover.|
|2:02||Foul on Jarryn Skeete|
|2:02||Tony Watson II Defensive Rebound.|
|1:44||Javon McCrea missed Free Throw.|
|1:05||Auraum Nuiriankh missed Layup.|
|0:41||Tony Watson II Defensive Rebound.|
|0:05||Buffalo Offensive Rebound.|
|0:05||Jarryn Skeete missed Layup.|
|0:03||Tony Watson II missed Three Point Jumper.|
|0:01||Foul on Auraum Nuiriankh|
|0:01||Will Regan Turnover.|
It's a problem I have seen since I started following the team back in 2007 and Buffalo seems no closer to turning it around now than they were then.
Point Two - Welcome to the UB Bakery, Making more turnovers than you can eat!
18 turnovers and some of them were the ugliest you will ever see. Absolutely preventable events that led right to Ohio points
Point Three - Next year could be make or break
I like coach Witherspoon, really I do. On UBFan I have been accused of being an apologist but this is starting to wear thin. This season UB has a lot of obstacles to overcome. The Bulls lost a lot of talent, had injury problems, and are young.
Last year none of that was true. In 2007-2008 it was not true, in 2005 that was not true. Most importantly next season the youth excuse will be gone. It's been a decade since UB has been off probation and Coach Witherspoon is starting to seem a lot like Western Michigan's Bill Cubit.