Stop me if you've heard this before: After running out to a big first-half lead, UB flagged in the second half against one of the best teams in the MAC and was faced with a tight game for the final ten minutes. Again and again this team looks disinterested out of the half and gets pounded by a team prepared to play to the buzzer.
But a surprising pair of threes from Shannon Evans and Jarryn Skeete with three to play helped the Bulls to an eight-point lead, and the visitors closed out the huge MAC win, 68-56. Buffalo is now 8-6 in the MAC and should be just a game out of a top-four seed in the MAC Tournament after this weekend.
It goes without saying that everything from here on out is important for the UB men, who will likely need to put together their first four-game win streak of the season and then improve upon it to have a fighter's chance in the MAC Tournament. Today's game against Bowling Green was even more critical, though, since Buffalo could theoretically catch and pass the Falcons on the basis of the remaining head to head opportunities alone.
There's not too much to this one that we haven't said before. After a hot first half, UB wasn't ready to play out of the break, and Bowling Green was, and the Falcons closed it out and took the lead midway through the half. This time, the inevitable Bobby Hurley tech galvanized the Bulls, who maintained a slight lead and iced it with that pair of threes.
Individually, it's the same story. Evans led Buffalo with 19 points, but 14 came in the first half, and his first points of the second were on the key three. The sophomore has proven himself to be a dynamic scorer, and is near the top of the conference stat boards in part because he manages to find points no matter what.
The difference between brain-melting Evans and merely-one-of-the-best-in-the-MAC Evans is his stroke from three. That was there in his insane 33 point day against Cornell back in January, and it sparked the Bulls early to that huge lead, breaking open a slight Buffalo advantage into a 36-22 lead at the half thanks to 14 on four triples from the sophomore.
Richaun Holmes scored 15 before fouling out to lead the Falcons.
I can't say enough about UB's successes early flowing from dominant rebounding. Everything flowed from the glass as the Bulls pulled down 10 offensive rebounds in the first half and owned a 27-13 advantage overall. Obviously, that wasn't there in the second half; the two teams were even on the boards, and the usual happened.
But it ended with UB up, having clearly outplayed the Falcons for at least 27 of the 40 minutes, and frankly surprising me with their fortitude late.
It goes without saying that every game from here out is big, but UB's next one, a Tuesday home date with Akron, is key for improving Buffalo's tiebreaker situation, whether it comes into play at the 4-5 juncture or even a bit lower, at the end of the season. The Zips take on Miami this evening, and could fall into a tie with the Bulls with a loss.