Last we saw the Bulls, they struggled throughout in an ugly road loss to Western Michigan. The good news, from here on out? Counting tonight, nine of Buffalo's final 16 regular season games are at home. Just four of the first ten were played in Alumni Arena.
Tonight, UB remained undefeated at home, using a ten-minute blitz to top the visiting Northern Illinois Huskies, 82-63, and looking more like the team we say in nonconference play. UB moved to 5-0 at home this season, and are outscoring their opponents by nearly 15 points a night in Alumni.
The Bulls were done in against WMU by poor shooting and a lack of scoring depth; only Justin Moss and Shannon Evans presented any kind of offensive threat against the Broncos. Tonight, UB once against started slow, but burst everything open when Jarryn Skeete got hot ten minutes in. Starting for the first time since rolling his ankle nearly three weeks ago, Skeete finished with 14 points on 4-7 shooting from beyond the arc. NIU was without leading scorer Darrell Bowie for the third straight game, and were led by 21 points from Anthony Johnson.
Skeete was the key for the Bulls, who trailed 13-12 midway through the first half before the junior hit three consecutive threes. The run slowed at times after topping out at 17-2 on a Rodell Wigginton dunk, but ended only at the halftime break at 30-8. Everyone who saw the floor for UB scored in the half.
The secondary stats at the break were one-sided, as well. UB committed just a single turnover to go with 7 steals and 8 assists. Meanwhile, NIU coughed up the ball nine time, had 0 steals and only 4 assists. Exacerbating the UB run was the fact that Buffalo committed only 6 fouls to the visitors' 12. Jordan Threloff, the MAC's leading man on the offensive glass, was forced to sit for long stretches with two fouls himself.
The second half may not calm concerns after the Miami game, as the Huskies were able to chip into the lead thanks in particular to three UB forwards hitting 3 fouls. In the first eight minutes of the second half, NIU scored as many as in the entire first half. Buffalo did hold their opponents at arm's length, though. Coach Hurley was not afraid to use his timeouts, and after 5 straight points from Rodell Wigginton the lead was above 20 until the waning moments during a late UB scoring drought.
This game was especially refreshing to see, because nobody carried the Bulls. Everyone scored at least 4 points and pulled down a rebound, and all but Regan, Wigginton, and Johnson had an assist. Five of the standard eight-deep rotation hit double digits, and as a team the Bulls committed only 6 turnovers, while converting 16 NIU giveaways in 30 points, including 24 points in transition. The Bulls also notched 9 blocks on the evening.
Looking at the rest of the conference, UB moved into a multi-way tie for first in the MAC East thanks to Akron's win over Bowling Green.
Buffalo remains at home this weekend, taking on the Miami Redhawks Saturday afternoon following the conclusion of the women's 1:00 game. Please consider coming early for that, if you're able.