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NCAA Basketball: Buffalo Bulls v Eastern Michigan Instant Reactions

Instant Reactions from UB's biggest win of the season so far against a strong EMU team. Regan, Oldham, and McCrea all play over 30 minutes as UB wins 76-66 in a true team effort.

Under Rob Murphy, EMU has risen to the top of the MAC West.
Under Rob Murphy, EMU has risen to the top of the MAC West.
Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

First Half

Fast Pace - Coming into today, EMU's magic number was 65 points, as the Eagles were 8-0 this season when they scored that many. In past years under Rob Murphy EMU really took the air out of the ball and routinely won games in the 40s, but they're starting to score more this season. Things started QUICK today, as EMU only missed once on the way to a 12-7 lead. Once again, for the third or fourth game in a row, Will Regan was the motor on both ends to keep UB within range and to close to a one point deficit at 12-11 at the first media TO. UB grabbed the lead for the first time  and drew the game's first foul on a Jarod Oldham driving basket to grab the lead first foul at 13:30, and the game settled down a bit after that.

Spreading the wealth - One of the things that makes the women's team so exciting to watch is just how many different players can put up numbers on any day. Through the first half Saturday UB's scoring was coming from everywhere, as 5 players had five or six points, seven had a rebounds, and 6 had been on the floor for over 10 minutes. Meanwhile, Javon McCrea didn't score in the first half, which had me excited:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>No points for McCrea in the first half and UB is still tied 30 30 with the Eagles. This is when it gets fun. <a href=";src=hash">#ReleaseTheKraken</a></p>&mdash; Bull Run (@UBBullRun) <a href="">January 11, 2014</a></blockquote>

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Rebounding and Defense - Depending on which stat you looked at, you could make a case that both teams were controlling the flow of play. EMU had the advantage on the boards thanks to 7-footer (conservatively) Dashonte Riley, but UB was playing smart with the ball to the tune of only 6 turnovers while forcing 10 from the Eagles. Despite the advantage on the glass, EMU had fewer shots than UB. In a happy coincidence that made for a more exciting half, neither team committed many fouls, though EMU guard Karrington Ward was forced to sit for a bit as he racked up EMU's first two infractions.

Avoiding the Drought - There's been a case to be made that this team has some unfortunate similarities to past iterations, as several times this season we've seen the Bulls just shut down offensively for far too long. The defense has sometimes been able to hold firm, but it's not too fun to keep playing games with Drexel-ish first halves. On two occasions this half it looked like the Bulls were losing momentum, and on two occasions underclassmen came through the restart the energy. A Jarryn Skeete three followed by a quick Deyshonee Much two ended a 3 1/2 minute drought, while later Much stepped up again to break a 24-24 tie with an NBA 3, while Josh Freelove came down the floor and followed up with a big three of his own.

Second Half

#ReleaseTheKraken - Javon came out to play in the second half, as we have grown to expect. Josh Whetzel was calling his name all over, as the senior didn't light up the scoreboard, but had several assists, UB's first four points, a key held ball with 11:31 to play, and a tip in to tie the game at 48 after EMU had opened the half on an 11-4 run.

McCrea would finish with 10 points and 11 rebounds for yet another double-double.

Three Point Defense - After shooting just 0 for five from distance in the first half, the Eagles lit it up to the tune of three of their first six shots from beyond the arc as they opened up a 41-34 lead. UB would hunker down once again, however, as EMU did not hit another three and finished just 3-17 from long range.

Skeete Skeete Skeete! - The Sophomore was BALLING today. After playing his part in the slumpbusting in the first half, Jarryn Skeete once again ignited the UB offense. Fouled on a three with UB down 1 and only 5 minutes to play, he hit all three foul shots, and then nailed a three on the next possession as part of a big UB run that built up a 66-58 lead with three minutes to play. When EMU closed to within 4, it was Skeete again who delivered a three. Jarryn would finish with a career high-tying 19 points

Fouls and Patience - After a mostly clean first half, there were a lot more stoppages in the second. UB was able to climb back out of their early deficit, thanks to Dashonte Riley notching his fourth foul. Riley would come back with ten minutes to play, but UB was able to get to the free throw line 18 times in the second half, while also racking up 22 assists on 27 made buckets on the night as they generally were able to move the ball in and out on EMU's zone defense.

Slumpbusters - The Bulls suffered from a more prolonged slump in the second half than they did in the first, but UB was obviously able to turn the tide and really get the announced crowd of 2,616 going.

This bullet is mostly a chance for me to give more individual shoutouts. Javon McCrea was literally everywhere for the Bulls in the second half (#ReleaseTheKraken), Skeete I've talked about already.

And please don't forget about Jarod Oldham and Shannon Evans: Evans didn't even get his first point until a big three (I feel like every UB three today was big) made it 66-58, but he finished with 5 and was even more impressive - Andy Robinson-esue (Really) on the defensive side of the ball. Oldham likewise had the type of day we used to see from him, finishing with 11 points, 4 boards, and a good handful of steals and assists.


Stats of the Game: Assists and Turnovers: At one point UB had 15 assists on 17 field goals, and they finished with 22 on 27. Combine that with ONLY EIGHT TURNOVERS, and I think you've found the elixir to beating a zone. Given how long zone defenses have terrorized Alumni Arena, this was a lot of fun to watch.

Team Effort: Four Bulls - Skeete, McCrea, Oldham, and Regan - finished in double digits scoring.

The Bulls next travel to Toledo to take on the Rockets and their high-flying offense on Wednesday the 15th at 7:00 PM.