Enter Nate Oats, CJ Massinburg, and David Kadiri. Immediately, the energy within UB’s media center drops to a disheartening level. Buffalo watched another MAC contest slip away from them — this time to Ball State 92-77 — for the second game in the row and the tensions within the team looked clear.
Chaos seems to be the best way to describe the defending Mid-American Conference Champs. One of the Bulls’ best defenders in freshman Quate McKinzie is out for six weeks due to an injury to his hand. The Bulls were forced to change their starting lineup due to off the court issues from Nick Perkins and Willie Conner. Blake Hamilton hasn’t been putting in his best effort in practice. And worst of all, senior Raheem Johnson — who was supposed to give a good dose of depth to UB’s front court this season — is suspended without a time table.
Meanwhile, players like CJ Massinburg are trying to bring this team back from hell with leadership and reserves like David Kadiri and Nikola Rakicevic are stepping up to the occasion. Kadiri — who finished the night with a career high 23 points and 11 rebounds — sure wasn’t a happy guy after having one of the best games of basketball in his life.
The Bulls shot the ball well for much of the night, but Ball State did even better. UB did a good job on the boards and executed with effort, but the Cardinals kept right up with them in that regard too. What hurts even more is the Bulls had one of their best afternoons taking care of the ball, turning it over just 8 times.
Ball State looked like they were one step ahead in all four times that the Bulls took the lead in this game. Every time UB clawed back into it, the Cardinals went on a layup frenzy as UB went relaxed on defense. With 7:28 left in the game, Buffalo saw their final glimpse of a possible lead for the final time of the day.
In the second straight game, the Bulls lost composure late and tried to chuck up desperation threes. It was 3:48 and with plenty of time left to run some plays before Nick Perkins bricked a three. UB was only down eight points and after three more quickly failed three-point attempts from the Bulls, they were down by 14 looking for a miracle to pull this one out.
Kadiri’s monster outing will be overshadowed, but as he said in the presser, he just wants to win and see the team get better. To his right Massinburg practically said the same thing. UB also had three other players in double figures in the loss: Hamilton (14), Perkins (12), and Conner (10).
UB now goes on the road to face a really good Kent State team. Nate Oats is 6-0 against the Golden Flashes since he came to Buffalo and hopes to knock them off for a seventh straight time on Tuesday. Hopefully, the team gives themselves a long hard look in the coming days and truly realize they are not where they need to be to win the MAC. UB’s matchup at Kent will tip-off at 7:00 PM.