BUFFALO, NY - Javon McCrea said that he hates to lose more than he loves to win, and from the preseason MAC player of the year, that’s saying a lot.
The Bulls improved to 3-0 following a conference loss as they used an aggressive second-half approach, combined with a strong defensive effort to down the Ball State Cardinals 69-48 on Wednesday night, and avenge an earlier season loss to their conference foe.
UB didn’t shoot the ball well but held their opponent – a low-percentage team from the field – to just 35 percent from the floor and got better second half production from their go-to guys to pull away from the Cardinals. The Bulls improved to 10-0 inside Alumni Arena, and 6-3 in Mid American Conference play.
“I thought our defense was really solid consistently throughout the gamer,” said Bulls Head Coach Hurley. ”It carried us in the first half when we weren’t as good as we have been lately on offense so that was great to see.”
Ball State came into the game shooting just 38.7 percent in conference games, and 40 percent for the season. The Bulls held them under their season and conference average, and contested the three-point shot. The Cardinals were just 4-of-20 from beyond the arch.
McCrea notched his tenth double-double of the season with 19 points and 14 rebounds on 6-of-10 shooting, and 7-of-10 from the free throw line. Despite picking up an early foul, McCrea was able to stay effective for the entire game, helping the Bulls outscored the Cardinals 43-29 in the second session.
The Bulls were in attack mode, especially in the second half where they attempted 24 of their 35 free throws, connecting on 20 of them. They finished the game 26-of-35 from the charity stripe, having 23 more attempts than their opponent.
“It was nice we had a free throw differential which we have not enjoyed very often this year,” said Hurley. ”It was nice to out-shoot them 35-12 at the free throw line. I thought that showed how aggressive we were driving and committed to getting the ball inside.”
McCrea, and fellow senior Jarod Oldham combined to score 36 points for UB as Oldham dished out five assists and had just one turnover. McCrea surpassed the 1,800 point mark for his career, moving him into third place all-time in the UB scoring list.
“I’m living in the moment, so I don’t really think about it as much,” said McCrea on the achievement. ”I just try to stay as consistent as I can and that’s helped me a lot.”
“Javon is aggressive every night,” Oldham added on his teammate. ”It’s not like he has one go-to move. He’s almost like a point-forward out there. If you double him, he’s going to pass. If you don’t, he’s going to take advantage of who’s guarding him.”
UB will travel next to Central Michigan for a Saturday evening game. Tip-off is slated for 7 pm.