For two months now, Buffalo Men's Basketball has been in a pattern: lose one, win three. Tonight on the road in Mount Pleasant, they lost a game too early, falling 83-74 to the Central Michigan Chippewas, one of the highest-scoring and three-point shooting teams in the nation, let alone the conference.
We've increasingly felt the need to focus more and more attention on the Buffalo defense, and tonight's 84-73 loss will only heighten those concerns. Furthermore, the Bulls struggled out of timeouts and especially out of the halftime break at it seems Keno Davis easily outcoached Bobby Hurley.
Justin Moss continued his strong season with 26 points and 9 rebounds, but was overshadowed by the Chippewas' 16-29 performance from three and the coaching wiles of CMU's Davis, who spent a few years in the Big East at Providence before coming to the MAC.
Offensively, the Bulls found plenty of success early and none late. A Shannon Evans layup midway through the second half stopped a big Chippewa run, forced a CMU timeout, and should have provided a springboard to get back in it, but it only got worse for the Bulls from there, as out of the stoppage CMU quickly built a ten-point lead that persisted deep into the game.
Simply put, Keno Davis got the better of Bobby Hurley in a big way tonight. Buffalo's perimeter defense was lacking, and the Chippewa halftime adjustments left UB in the dust after the efficient opening half. Hurley also still had four timeouts remaining with less than three minutes to play. It's my opinion they could have been useful during the CMU runs, even if they would have given Coach Davis more time to draw up plays.
UB worked noticeably slower than normal in that first half, but could not have been more efficient, scoring 45 points on 33 possessions. Both Moss and Jarryn Skeete had 15 points at the break, but in the second half UB simply lost their shooting touch, composure in the half-court offense and perimeter defense.
CMU came out on a 20-7 run, fueled by a pair of questionable offensive foul calls on Moss, that put the Chippewas up 58-52 before that critical Evans layup and timeout, which made it clear that every stoppage was a chance for CMU to regroup and find new ways to make shots.
Before that run, the first half was a high-efficiency slugfest, as Toledo hit 7-17 and Buffalo 5-10 from distance. Twice it seemed Buffalo was ready to run away, but midway through the half the Rockets closed to within three and hit a prayer at the buzzer for a 45-38 halftime deficit. Despite all the points, it could have been more at the half as the two teams were a combined 2-9 from the line.
It should have been no surprise that CMU was going to try for a bonanza from beyond the arc, but the UB defense never really went into a press or anything to counter it. This one leaves a bad, bad taste in the mouth.
Next up for UB? Ohio. In the Convo. In front of the O-Zone. On paper it's another early-season mismatch in the MAC slate for UB, but anything goes when it comes to the Bobcats. That's Saturday at 2:00 PM.