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MAC Championship, Round two

Brandon is a far more sophisticated basket ball fan then I, but he is kicking it in Florida and I don't know if he will manage to look into the championship tournament so I will do my best.

With the warm up round over Buffalo now heads to Cleveland for a date with the RedHawks. During the season these two teams split with Buffalo surviving a Miami Comeback to open up conference play and Miami destroying Buffalo in the final game of the season. The winner of this bumper match will likely face Kent in the quarter finals (yes Ohio might manage an upset but Kent is the tournament favorite right now).

The story of the first meeting was Buffalo getting out to an early lead and surviving a Miami run early in the second:

The energy caused early Miami turnovers, forced them into tough shots, and authoritative block by Boudreau, and it just seemed from the start that there was no chance for Buffalo to lose today. -- Brandon on the First Buffalo-Miami Meeting
While it was Pierce who ruled the day with 21 points UB had several player go over ten and a couple or more player who were only a hair's breadth away from double digits. During the first 12 minutes eight UB players scored before the team went cold with a 24-7 lead. When Miami did close to three points early in the second Rodney Pierce would hit two and then steal the ball which, eventually, lead to a three pointer by Calvin Betts. The Hawks would never close to within a basket again and started to fade.

The Story of the second meeting was Buffalo's second half fade. Unlike the first game UB and Miami would stay tight and competitive throughout the first half. Buffalo, being themselves, went to sleep a minute or two before the end of the first half and let Miami get into halftime with a 33-29 lead. For a couple of minutes UB would hold with Miami in the second, then the wheels came off.

Time Buffalo Play Score Miami Play
17:08 33-37 Julian Mavunga made Two Point Layup.
17:08 Foul on Titus Robinson 33-37
17:08 33-38 Julian Mavunga made Free Throw.
17:03 Calvin Betts Turnover. 33-38
17:02 33-38 Rodney Haddix II Steal.
16:54 33-40 Kenny Hayes made Two Point Layup. Assisted by Kramer Soderberg.
16:37 Mitchell Watt made Two Point Dunk Shot. Assisted by Rodney Pierce. 35-40
16:01 35-42 Rodney Haddix II made Two Point Jumper.
15:48 Rodney Pierce missed Two Point Jumper. 35-42
15:48 35-42 Miami (OH) Defensive Rebound.
15:47 35-42 Official TV Timeout.
15:26 35-42 Julian Mavunga missed Two Point Layup.
15:26 Mitchell Watt Block. 35-42
15:25 35-42 Miami (OH) Offensive Rebound.
15:17 35-42 Julian Mavunga missed Two Point Jumper.
15:17 Mitchell Watt Block. 35-42
15:13 Mitchell Watt Defensive Rebound. 35-42
15:04 Rodney Pierce missed Two Point Jumper. 35-42
15:04 35-42 Kenny Hayes Defensive Rebound.
14:43 35-45 Kramer Soderberg made Three Point Jumper. Assisted by Julian Mavunga.

Well in the game I was watching I saw a handful of seniors who were uncertain of themselves on the floor, and were doing more thinking on the floor than actually letting instincts take over. Boudreau was the only senior to play well, and he had just what I would call and average night. -- Brandon on the Second Buffalo Miami Meeting

The key, as always, for Buffalo it the performance of Rodney Pierce. It's alright if he does not come out on fire, so long as he is passable and the other seniors on the team manage just 'good' games pierce can work into his rhythm. If, however, Pierce comes out stone cold the pressure on the other starters to have career games may prove overwhelming.

Defensively UB is going to have to do something to cool down Miami's forwards, Mavunga and Ballard each played about their best games of the year last time out and that kind of pressure freed up hays to shoot 67% (his best showing conference play).

Mitchell Watt could play better defensively this time around, he was solid offensively last time but he did not have his best game ever defensively:
I know he had 5 blocks in the game, but how many were on his own man, and not help side defense? Several times in the game Mavunga pump faked and Watt left his feet to block the shot. This caused whoever Watt was guarding to blow past him all night, causing other players to pick up fouls, and help having to flat out leave their man open for and open 3. -- Brandon on the Second Miami Game
Right now the three favorites in the tournament are probably Akron, Kent, and Miami, all teams that Buffalo split with this season (each team on their home games). Buffalo has an advantage over all these teams because of the warm up this past Sunday against the Rockets, The momentum off of a victory over Miami would be huge going into the quarter finals.