No half-by-half analysis tonight, but here's my (kind of) Instant Reactions after tonight's surprising 96-90 scoreline. I also can't get the little box score widget up but, once again:
96-90. In regulation.
Two Things I Noticed:
Turnovers and Assists: As you might expect from a game that featured an astonishing 186 points, you'd expect that the secondary stats would look strong. At the half, the two teams had combined for just four turnovers, with two of those coming from UB point guard Jarod Oldham in the early going. Oldham would finish with a stellar 20 points in the win and four assists to go along with his four turnovers, so we'll give him a pass.
In my mind, the turnover numbers for UB this season are the single biggest difference so far between the Reggie and Bobby eras. Year in and year out over the last decade, Buffalo's success seemed to hinge on other factors as the Bulls averaged around 16 giveaways a night basically every season. But now, you can really tell that Coach Hurley was an elite-level point guard, as UB leads the MAC in conference play with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.3, on the strength of only 12 turnovers per game.
On the night tonight, UB notched 21 assists on 38 buckets. While Akron was even more stingy than UB, only giving the ball up four times on the night, the Zips also only got nine assists in their 40 minutes of offensive output. In a high-scoring game like tonight, the offense that runs more smoothly will easily account for those six points, and tonight it was UB.
The fact of the matter is that when one team gets to 96 and the other isn't far behind, there aren't many rebounds to go around. On the night UB outmuscled Akron on the glass to the tune of a 35-25 advantage, but it wasn't even that close. About 90 seconds into the second half Javon McCrea's tenth board came before Akron's tenth as a team, and a few minutes later, it was still close, as Akron had just 13 to McCrea's 12. While we are watching the very best basketball of UB's top rebounder since the 70's, it's nice to see this stat, which has been a strength of recent UB teams, continue.
Two Things I Didn't Notice:
Defense? - If rebounds are one thing that doesn't come in big numbers on a night like tonight, another is defense. It's almost nitpicky because UB shot so well on offense, but the Bulls did give up 90 points on 52% shooting, and their conference-leading 3 point defense took a huge hit as Akron drained ten triples. As we know from above, Akron was even cleaner with the ball than UB's 8 turnovers, with just 4. The good news is we know this team can shut it down against MAC teams, so seeing them win a different style of game is encouraging.
UB Slump - Another UB staple was conspicuously absent tonight. We've brought up UB's tendency to just stop scoring for anywhere from four to twelve minutes this year before, but the fact of the matter is this was common practice dating all the way back to the Rodney Pierce years. Tonight, it just never happened. UB's longest drought on the night was just three minutes, as Akron turned a 15-20 deficit into a 22-20 lead midway through the first half.
Kraken Watch: Pretty decent night for everyone's favorite weapon of mass destruction, as Javon finished with 20 points, 13 rebounds, and 8 assists. And remember, the tenth board came with 18 minutes and change left in the game. No one can stop this man.
No, UB has never seen a triple-double. There's still a few games left.
McCrea is now just nineteen points from Rasaun Young's school-record 1908 and will almost certainly finish the year as the top scorer in school history. He could break the record near the end of UB's next game against Kent State. He also now sits 63 boards away from 1000 career rebounds.
Josh Freelove and Jarod Oldham also hit 20 for Buffalo. It's the first time three Bulls have hit twenty in the same game since before the turn of the century. Shannon Evans pitched in with 13, and there's three quarters of your offense right there.
UB is now 9-4 in the MAC, tied for the top East record and second best record overall with Akron. Western Michigan, who UB trounced earlier in the season, is just one game better at 10-3. Despite the ugly losses against Ball State, Bowling Green, and Ohio, UB has every much a shot at a top-2 seed as any other school, and no more slip ups than any other East squad.