Phew! The Buffalo Bulls outlasted the Northern Illinois Huskies 65-45 in arguably the ugliest all around game I’ve watched this season. With only 18 COMBINED points scored after 12 minutes, it felt like first to 30 would be walking away with a win. Eventually the offenses kind of woke up. Similarly to a college student who groggily gets out of bed at 1PM but doesn’t start functioning until 4PM.
However you take this game however, one thing is definite. The Bulls have now put together a 3 game winning streak in the MAC and look like they have figured out how to win when everything isn’t there. Which is a good thing. Not having everything put together is also good because now we have a lot of material for the good, the bad, the ugly. Shall we?
CJ “Buckets” Massinburg
First things first. The nickname is catching on, and that’s awesome. As for Massinburg’s play last night, it was a stand out scoring performance amidst an otherwise evenly distributed night. CJ Buckets finished with 17 points, including some big threes in the second half. He’s had a very consistent season and seems to put up double digit points every night, but this game felt different. He seemed to give the team a spark when they needed it, and that can’t go unnoticed.
While yes there were a few highlight reel put back dunks by NIU, the Bulls overall dominated the boards. NIU came in to the night as the number one rebounding team in the MAC. However, the Bulls out rebounded the Huskies 45-31. That is a HUGE margin and helps to tell the story of how Buffalo limited NIU to just 45 points. Buffalo now moves up to number 9 in the nation in rebounds per game. A nice accolade to have, especially when looming are dangerous three point teams like Ohio and Akron.
Blake Hamilton’s Offense
This game feels like a one bad game situation. Hamilton, who averaged 28 ppg over the past 3 walked off the court with just 5 points last night. Hamilton never seemed comfortable and appeared to be doubled up on multiple times. This is to be expected after being named MAC East POTW. What isn’t expected is his 7 turnovers. However, Hamilton still had 7 rebounds and 4 assists. It may not have been his best scoring night, but he still contributed to the team in a positive way.
General Public Attendance
I understand that Tuesday games are tough to draw crowds. I understand that the Sabres had a game. And I understand NIU isn’t a big crowd pull. But eventually, we need the general public to do what they can to get to the games. Call it what you want, but it’s still D1 basketball in your back yard for an affordable price. There isn’t really a bad seat in the house, so come on out and enjoy yourself. To those who show up, thank you. To those that haven’t yet, you’re missing out, and this team is starting to figure it out. You don’t want to miss out on that.
The Entire First Half
Boy that was not fun to watch. I understand that NIU has a bad offense and good defense, but at some point we need an exciting play. No shots were falling for either team. I couldn’t be excited for winning or upset for losing. I kind of just felt meh. I also came in to the game with low excitement because I know literally nothing about NIU. Overall, I’m happy with the win, but boy were there some ugly stretches.
In Game Media
Everything felt off last night. I saw it in the comments from the recap, and I felt it. Coming off Bulls Jam, the department was on such a hot streak. I don’t blame them for some aspects, but leaving music on during a FT feels inexcusable. Also when announcing the athletes with a 3.0 GPA, the PA announcer rushed through the team names so that it was way out of order. I don’t think this will be a continuing trend, but boy were there some head scratching moments.
Overall on the night, my thoughts are this: a win’s a win. In the crazy MAC standings this year, that’s all that matters. I still believe this team is the second best or best team in the conference. If they can keep hot on the way to Cleveland, we’re in for a fun time. Until that tournament, enjoy the ride. After all, these are the Buffalo Bulls.