As the season winds down, I considered doing a post that outlines the current week's games and what we should root for for the best seeding. Fortunately, while I was too busy to do one for tonight, we don't need it, because almost every single game fell Buffalo's way.
But let me start with UB. Before the game I said that I think the key to winning a tight game with Ohio would be double digit point totals from a non-Freelove guard or non-McCrea forward. (If it was Oldham I wanted 15, since he's a little more consistent game over game.) My rationale for this was that in our successful games we get scoring depth from a third or fourth player, while in our tighter battles, it's more spread out where a lot of guys have 5-10 points. Bull Run has articulated this issue before, when I felt that this team rose and fell with the guard play, and when Tim wondered if McCrea's best games came in losses.
I was unable to follow the game, so find Tim's reactions after each half below, and make sure to check out the game thread as well. Attack Cat demands it of you.
It had everything you expect of a Buffalo / Ohio second half. A huge Buffalo lead, bad shots, sloppy passes, and inexplicable missed free throws inside the last two minutes of the game. This time however Buffalo managed to hang on for a close win over the Bobcats.
But while McCrea was locked down UB point Guard Jarrod Oldham was huge. Going 5-5 from the floor the Junior put up 11 points in the first half and Joshua Freelove drained a 3 as time in the half expired to give the senior 12 points while putting the Bulls ahead 42-24
In the end, this one was the first in a while that went UB's way not because of the broad shoulders of The Kraken, though holding Maurice Ndour to far below his double-double pace on defense is no small feat. Instead, however, the Bulls pulled it out because the rest of Bobby Hurley's very deep team stepped up offensively. In a true show of team balance, the Bulls got double digits from two forwards inMcCrea and Regan - and two guards - Freelove and Oldham. When it comes down to crunch time, like tonight against Ohio, or in two weeks in Cleveland, I would be more than happy to see those four names - three seniors and a junior in his third year with the program - leading the way.
Ultimately, the strong first half play of Oldham and Freelove stoked UB out to an even Ohio-proof halftime lead, and the Bulls held on in the end for a 69-64 road win with the help of crooked numbers all over the stat sheet. Short of Auraum Nuiriankh, who only saw the floor for four minutes, every Bull had multiple rebounds. Six different Bulls had assists, and five different players notched a steal, as UB owned the possession game against the Bobcats.
By the numbers:
11. As in Hollywood_XI, Shannon Evans, who put up a downright Betts-ian line tonight: only one turnover and no fouls in 30 minutes to go with 8 points, 5 boards, 3 assists, and 4 steals. It doesn't get much better than that. While Xavier Ford gets the starts, Evans usually gets the starters minutes, and his strong play off the bench helps with rotations and keeping the energy up throughout.
20. As in the combined extra field goal and free throw attempts that UB enjoyed over the Bobcats. The Bulls got the most out of their possessions thanks to a 14-7 advantage in both offensive boards and turnovers. In their last three games, UB is averaging just nine turnovers over 40 minutes. Not too shabby.
14.3 / 56.5. UB's shooting percentages from beyond the arc and from the line. These numbers suck, but it's telling that the team was about as bad as possible on the most valuable shots and still pulled out a win.
That's the biggest point in my mind: In their last three games, UB has won an absolute shootout against a division contender, enjoyed a comfortable road win in which their best player took over, and overcame a horrendous shooting night by winning the possession stats to grind out a huge road win against the other division contender.
Enjoy this high, Bulls fans. And enjoy it more when you take a look at other MAC results from tonight:
Miami over Akron
NIU over Toledo
WMU over Ball State in OT
Bowling Green over Kent State
EMU over CMU
So the last two don't really matter much, but the first two! Whew. With the losses, Akron and Ohio are both two full games back of UB with just three to play. Furthermore, NIU did Buffalo a solid, knocking Toledo and the #2 seed a notch closer to Buffalo. If only Ball State could have gotten their second MAC win tonight.
UB next plays Saturday at noon, when they host Miami. Go Bulls!
- Women's Basketball at Ohio, Don't Be That Team
- The Eleventh Worst Thing about UB at Ohio
- Men's Basketball: Buffalo Bulls v Ohio Bobcats Postgame
- Mid American Conference Mens Basketball Tournament Standings
- Instant Reactions Buffalo hangs on against Ohio.