Don't blame the refs, don't blame the refs, don't blame the refs.
Okay now that we have that out of the way.
The Bulls lost 66-62 to Eastern Michigan on Tuesday night. It was an embarrassing performance for a team that keeps falling further and further down the Mid-American Conference standings.
Buffalo, coming off a close loss to MAC leading Bowling Green on Friday, seemed to have a cupcake match up ahead of them with Eastern Michigan. The Eagles went the entire month of January without winning a game before beating Toledo 61-57 last Saturday.
Now, Eastern kept it close with those teams but you'd like to think Buffalo would come out a little more eager after the one-point loss to BG.
But, we saw a UB team that was unprepared for the zone of EMU despite knowing that was their plan the entire time.
Multiple possessions in a row without a clean shot, lazy passing, no movement, they looked like they didn't want to be there. Davonta Jordan was the most frustrating to watch. The senior point guard who ranks among the top in school history in assists finished with seven turnovers and zero assists. Let me repeat, seven turnovers and zero assists.
Jordan casually tried to fit the ball in between defenders or was too late in his reads, allowing for a Eagle to reach into a lane down low. In total, Buffalo finished with 17 turnovers but these were turnovers that led straight into a fast break for an Eastern Michigan team that is objectively awful at getting the ball into the basket. At one point Buffalo found themselves down 11 in the first half.
Buffalo didn't do any favors when they weren't turning the ball over. They went 5 of 28 from three and 22 of 62 overall. If it wasn't within three feet, you could assume a miss.
Actually let's break that down. Buffalo finished with 32 points in the paint which leaves us eight made shots not inside of it. Take the 32, plus the 13 free throws they made and you get 45. Take the five threes they had to give you 15 more points and bring the total to 60.
So, the Bulls made ONE shot that wasn't from this. It was a Segu jump shot with 8:19 remaining in the second half. That's inexcusable.
The only area Buffalo played well in, and what might be there only consistent area of play this season, was rebounding. Buffalo finished with 43 rebounds, led by Josh Mballa with 11 and Jayvon Graves with 10. The 17 offensive boards resulted in 20 second-chance points. I'll applaud them for that and their ability to take advantage down low with seven-footer Boubacar Toure playing just 22 minutes.
Buffalo played their best ball near the end of the first half and would have taken the lead if not for the dreaded clock running out on them. Buffalo threw together a lineup that included Laquill Hardnett and David Nickelberry. It's a insanely small sample size but if your regulars like Jeenathan Williams (1-7 shooting), Antwain Johnson (3-12), Ronaldo Segu (2-9) will shoot that way, maybe it's time to experiment with lineups a little more.
Obviously Buffalo is a better team when they play a team that goes straight man-to-man and they can effectively use the dribble-drive penetration and kick out motions we're so accustomed to but if this is what happens when a team goes to a zone, then it's going to be a tough road to March.