We saw a much different Buffalo Bulls team this time around. The men's team cruised to an easy win that was highlighted by the best ball movement the team has had all season. UB fell behind early to NC A&T but got into a rhythm after that and dominated the game. Thanks to the win, UB will be facing Vermont tonight in the championship match for the Springfield bracket.
1. Overcoming Adversity Early
UB came out at the beginning of the game slow and sloppy on defense and undisciplined on offense allowing NC A&T to jump out to a sizable lead early, but then UB buckled down and ended the half with a 35-27 lead thanks in no small part to Rodell Wigginton and CJ Massinburg who had 13 and 11 points respectively. It was excellent to see the team overcome the early deficit and defensive issues early to power ahead of A&T and not let them back into the game. The Bulls also rebounded nicely from putrid shooting in the first half (27.3%) nearly doubling their shooting percentage in the second half (54.8%).
2. Where in the world is Nikola Rakicevic?
It was a little disheartening to see Rakicevic stuck on the bench for so long against an overmatched opponent, especially in the 2nd half. With someone like Rakicevic who has played in the same league abroad that current NBAer Enes Kanter has, its troubling to see him getting minutes only when Christian Pino is at the very end of a victory. Hopefully this becomes the exception and not the rule.
Player of the Game: Rodell Wigginton
Wigginton provided the offensive spark in the first half to keep UB on track when they were down early and he showed hustle and effort on every single play. He finished with a game high 19 points and 11 rebounds.
1. We finally played like a team
This is the biggest thing I can takeaway from this game. ODU and St. Joe's was nothing but Lone Wolf play, but it was different here. The only person who hogged the ball and made terrible decisions was Lamonte Bearden (which is a takeaway within itself). 15 assists is what I expect every night from this team and they met that expectation. Ball movement was finally there and no one was being selfish. This team will be lethal if they keep working on this.
2. Rodell could be MAC POTY this year
Wigginton is easily playing the best basketball that he has since he suited up for the Bulls. 19 points, 11 rebounds, AND 5 ASSISTS to top it all off is huge. If he keeps playing as well as he has, he's going to be a threat to Chris Fowler, who is the favorite for MAC POTY. Rodell's shot selection has dramatically improved since last season and I look forward to watching him this season.
3. Defense could be a little better
For me, it just seemed like we weren't really in their face with the aggressive man to man defense that we should be playing. It could just be that they're too scared of being fouled due to the NCAA's foul calling changes (Which has ruined the physicality of the game).
Player of the Game: Rodell Wigginton
I usually try to bring in variety and highlight another player ho had a good night but I couldn't let this go. Rodell had an amazing night and put up a handful of assists on top of that. You've set some high expectations here, Wigginton.
1. Shot selection
Lamonte Bearden has got to be better than floated tear drops and runners from the middle of the lane if there are three or four defenders around him. Look only to Jarryn Skeete's first and second halves to see how ball movement helps more than just Lamonte.
2. Ikenna Smart and Raheem Johnson
Even without an offensive game, notice how much more time Smart got. All the more important that the ball move and find a mismatch on offense.
Player of the Game:Rodell Wigginton
Player of the Year is optimistic, but Wigginton is delivering a complete package right now and it's good to see.