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Buffalo Bulls 77, Western Michigan Broncos 71: Takeaways from UB's fourth MAC win

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It wasn't the prettiest, but the Bulls got a win against Western Michigan and move to 4-3 in the MAC.

UB Athletics

You know the drill by know. We all sleep on the game and come back the next day with further takeaways. Here's some bigger picture stuff from yesterday's 77-71 win over Western Michigan.

Let's Talk About X

SO MANY XAVIER FORD PUNS. And the best part is we get to use them because Ford is having a huge year, the kind we expected when as a recruit he was PARADE Third Team All-America.

A few games ago, Justin Moss scored 31 points and I felt Ford had a bigger impact on the game. He's the perfect sixth man, averaging 8 points and 6 boards a game in 20 minutes, hitting 50% from the floor and playing with the perfect amount of aggression for his minutes, averaging 3 fouls a game.

The reason this comes up now is because last night Ford got his first start of the season, and played perhaps his best game. 16 points isn't a season-high, but 4 assists is. In the two games this season where Ford has played more than 26 minutes, he's put up his two highest scoring games, which I think is strong evidence that the senior deserves even more time.

Let's Talk About X

Balance

Last time we dealt with Western Michigan, Justin Moss and Shannon Evans did their thing but no else else managed much. Of course, WMU was without Austin Richie, so it's not quite that simple, but last night UB got five points from everyone.

With the already short rotation, UB will need consistent production from the lineup. It might be the case that UB's wins are more closely tied to Rodell Wigginton than anyone else: the Bulls are 9-0 when he shoots better than 40% and 4-5 when he doesn't (0-1 when he doesn't play). Last night was an encouraging sign that UB can win in yet another different fashion. Hopefully.

Three Pointers

It can't be this way forever, right? This is much more severe than simple regressing to the mean. 2-19 last night and now UB is 13-84 over the last four games. (I pick four games because I don't think any of us were clamoring for improved shooting before that 0-12 day against Miami.)

The good news is that Buffalo has won in their three worst-shooting games of the year, and has established a baseline of between 35-40%. I'm not sure how long it takes 3PT% to stabilize past small sample size, but four games is an even smaller selection than 19.

The bad news is that, unlike that Miami game, when UB went to what was bringing them success, the team has continued to bomb from deep since, averaging 20 attempts and four makes over the last three games.

Miscellany

I don't usually have more than four of these, and I also this time round have lots of tidbits I don't feel like fleshing out. So some quick hits:

  • 21 assists and 13 steals were both season-high marks for the team.
  • Lamonte Bearden's shooting is a bit wild, and his scoring is dependent on how much he gets to the line, but look at the secondary stats: six straight games with a steal, 2+ assists in all but two games this season, and 12 straight with a rebound.
  • The difference in Shannon Evan's scoring output? He's not getting to the line: just three FTA in the last three games
  • Last night was UB's *seventh* of the season with fewer than 10 turnovers. Last season the Bulls had six such games total, and just one the year prior.

UB of course heads into the weekend with a big game Friday night. Kent State leads the MAC at 6-1, it's on ESPNU, and yadda yadda yadda. You get it.

Go Bulls.