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Buffalo Bulls 69, South Dakota State Jackrabbits 67: Moss' Double-Double Leads UB to Opening Night Win

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The University at Buffalo's Men's Basketball team took down South Dakota State in a thriller 69-67 behind the efforts of Justin Moss and Shannon Evans.

The air was electric, the stands in Alumni Arena were packed with over 3,000 hungry UB fans, and they were all ready for Year 2 of the Hurley Era to begin.

After a several minutes of back and forth play, with UB scoring off early foul shots from freshman sensation Lamonte Bearden and a few layups from junior forward Justin Moss, Moss put the crowd on their feet with a monster put back slam dunk. The dunk was one of several electrifying plays from the 6-foot-7 junior, who moved into the starting lineup following the departure of MAC Player of the Year Javon McCrea.

Moss did his best McCrea impression, putting up a double-double, with 25 points and 13 boards, while also showcasing his blocking talent, denying a pair of South Dakota State shots. Moss was the Bulls' most consistent player inside the paint, as senior forward Will Regan was held without a field goal, though he scored on all four of his opportunities from the free throw line.

Coming out of halftime, South Dakota State went on a run early to build up an 8 point lead, their largest of the game, before the Bulls kicked into over drive by a huge 3-pointer from sophomore guard Shannon Evans. Evans started his sophomore campaign off on a strong note with a 17 point performance; both he and freshman Lamonte Bearden showed a willingness to drive in to the basket and draw fouls, something that helped give the Bulls the advantage in the end. Bearden, meanwhile, finished his first game as a Bull with 8 points and 6 assists after playing for 23 minutes.

Later on in the second half after what seemed like an eternity between UB scores, Coach Hurley called a timeout to regroup his team, and shortly after transfer Rodell Wigginton had a monster put back dunk and all 3,000+ fans in Alumni Arena rose to their feet in unison and a deafening roar befell the court. Shortly after UB took the lead from South Dakota State, Justin Moss blocked a layup attempt and the crowd was roaring, and the tide of the game was turning.

But, after Justin Moss fouled out with just under 4 minutes remaining, on what many in the crowd deemed to be a bogus call, and with UB clinging to a 1 point lead it seemed like UB would start to collapse and the game would slip out of hand. However, with under a minute remaining and the Bulls down by one, junior Jarryn Skeete made a layup of an inbound from Evans to give UB the lead. Then, on the ensuing South Dakota State possession Skeete again made a play and swiped the ball away from Deondre Parks, effectively sealing the win for the Bulls.

GAME NOTES/BY THE NUMBERS:

  • Justin Moss' 23 points and 11 rebounds were both career highs. He was also a perfect 11-of-11 from the free throw line.
  • As a team, the Bulls shot 80% from the free throw line; but shot only a paltry 11% from beyond the arc, with Shannon Evans' make early in the second half being the only trey made by UB.
  • Freshman point guard Lamonte Bearden accounted for 6 of UB's 8 team assists. He was also the first freshman to start a season opener since 2005-2006 when Greg Gamble did.
  • The Bulls protected the ball well, only turning the ball over 8 times, while forcing 14 South Dakota State turnovers.
  • The victory was UB's first season-opening win since 2011-2012 when they defeated St. Peters in Javon McCrea's first start as a Bull.
The Bulls will have a quick turnaround as they travel to Lexington, Kentucky this Sunday to face the #1 team in the country, the Kentucky Wildcats.

Go Bulls!