On Monday night, the Buffalo Bulls fell just short against the nationally ranked #12 Cincinnati Bearcats in a tight 73-67 matchup at the Cayman Islands Classic. It was the first loss of the Bulls’ young season, but their performance drew praise throughout the basketball community.
If there's a better team in the MAC than Buffalo, I'd like to see it. Would be shocked if Nate Oats and Co. don't reach the NCAA Tournament.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) November 21, 2017
CJ Massinburg led the way for the Bulls with 29 on the scoreboard and 10 rebounds to kick off the Bulls’ road trip to the Cayman Islands with a double-double. Jeremy Harris and Nick Perkins also kept Buffalo in the game with 17 and 14 points respectively.
UB had a hot start in the first half as the Bearcats struggled against the Bulls’ athleticism and uptempo play. Buffalo capitalized on the Bearcats’ miscues and quickly garnered an 8-2 lead.
Cincinnati finally got their situation under control later in the half and quickly buried the Bulls with a 14-2 run.
Although the 39-26 halftime deficit proved too large for the Bulls to overcome, Buffalo slowly clawed back into the game in the second half. The combination of Massinburg, Harris, and Perkins performed well for much of the half on both ends of the floor.
Nate Oats deserves a ton of credit in this game. He did a great job at managing a rotation that saw six Bulls finish with four or more fouls.
UAB Preview — What to watch for
Despite losing last night’s contest, the Bulls still get two more games out of the Cayman Islands Classic and a chance to finish in 5th place. Today at 5:00 pm, Buffalo will face the UAB Blazers, a team where former Bull and MAC Player of the Year Turner Battle is on staff.
Here’s some things to watch for:
1. UAB’s defense
The Blazers possess a potent defense this season. They haven’t allowed a team to score more than 67 points this year. They also rarely commit blocking fouls, making it tough for teams to reach the charity stripe. This will be the second-straight day the Bulls are tested on offense.
2. Buffalo’s shooting
One of UB’s problems this year is their streaks of hot and cold. The Bulls have stalled out completely in each of their games so far instead of putting teams away. If Buffalo finds themselves with a 15 point lead or so, we’ll see if they can put the game away.
The Bulls are turning the ball over on 19% of their possessions right now, good for 171st in Division I play. It’s not awful, but not great either. Watch for how well the Bulls move the ball in transition in this game, especially after a tough performance in this department yesterday.