On Saturday, UB Men’s Basketball brought home a big confidence boosting win over Eastern Michigan and Bulls fans could only hope that one of the strongest performances of the season would translate to tonight’s matchup to Ohio. For 20 minutes, the Bulls had the Bobcats on the ropes. But just like last year’s overtime loss, foul trouble killed UB.
Rarely will I ever blame officiating as a writer — basketball is one of the toughest sports to call — but the officiating for this matchup was downright appalling. Multiple times throughout the game I saw a foul called on a UB player and when the replay board showed it in the arena, there was no contact. But, the most horrendous call on the night featured a “jump ball” in which CJ Massinburg had full possession in the final minute. I’ve seen a lot of bad calls in basketball this season (a no call on a shot clock violation in the WNBA finals comes to mind.), but that might be the worst.
Of course, UB shouldn’t even be in the position that they were and they definitely weren’t going to get any help from the refs after UB lost its composure. Nick Perkins would receive a double-technical foul after mouthing off to a ref and Willie Conner later received a tech as well.
The techs aren’t the whole story, the Bulls squandered a 16 point lead and stalled out in the second half and allowed the possibility for a comeback. Even if the officiating was awful, it isn’t the reason for why UB’s offense stalled out.
Instead, the Bulls are left with the stat line that truly plagued them for pulling an upset over the best team in the conference: 7-29 from beyond the arc. Buffalo became too content with jacking up a three early in possession at the under three minutes mark in the game.
With the negatives aside, we still saw that UB Men’s Basketball can amount to what we’ve all hoped.
The departure of Lamonte Bearden no longer stings now that Dontay Caruthers has stepped up. The Rochester, NY native doesn’t blow up the box score, but UB’s offense is most efficient when he’s on the floor.
CJ Massinburg is back to his usual self and has posted his second straight double-double. It’s crazy to think that he was recovering from mono just a month ago. UB is finally using its athletic ability to dominate the boards again. Finally, the Bulls are getting to the free throw line.
There’s still plenty to clean up, but had the team that played Robert Morris shown up for this matchup, they certainly would’ve been blown out. Nate Oats has proven to us once again that he’s the best coach in the entire Mid-American conference. For a team that seems to have a lot of conflicting personalities — which shows through in the team chemistry that is given off on the floor — Oats has somehow meshed them into a way that can compete for a third consecutive MAC title.
Because of the last sentence I will say this: every year of UB basketball since Bobby Hurley came to town will be defined as the Nate Oats era. Oats looks to be facing an even bigger challenge this year meshing these personalities but he now has the team contending for the MACC again.
So yes, Buffalo loses this game 74-72, but fans can feel a little at ease. The Bulls are playing their best basketball so far this season, and if the team that showed up in the first half of tonight for a full 40 minutes, then watch out.
Blake Hamilton led all scorers with 17 and he also brought in 13 boards to complete a double-double effort. CJ Massinburg was the other star with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
Buffalo stays home for the rest of the week as they gear up to take on a turnover prone Ball State team. The game will begin at 2:00PM and air on ESPN3.