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BUFFALO BASKETBALL GOES BACK-TO-BACK AT CENTRAL MICHIGAN
Plus: Coach Maurice Linguist's first football recruiting class is ranked #1 in the MAC
Image from cmuchippewas.com
Robert O. Davis may be the president of Central Michigan University, but the University at Buffalo basketball teams ruled his campus on Saturday. Let’s take a look at how the Bulls’ men’s and women’s hoop squads ran amok at McGuirk Arena on a wintery afternoon in the Great Lakes State.
UB WOMEN MAKE IT THREE IN A ROW WITH 82-74 WIN OVER CMU
Image from ubbulls.com
After a three-game losing streak in late January, the UB women’s basketball team is proving that February is the cruelest month for its Mid-American Conference opponents.
The latest victim was Central Michigan.
Tied 52-52 at the start of the fourth quarter on Saturday, the Bulls (14-7 overall, 8-3 in Mid-American Conference play)—paced by 11 fourth-quarter points on four-for-six shooting and three assists from star junior Dyaisha Fair (pictured above, left)—outlasted the Chippewas (4-17, 2-10) en route to an 82-74 victory.
The win was Buffalo’s third in a row, following wins over Eastern Michigan on Wednesday and Northern Illinois last Saturday. The Blue and White improved its MAC road record to 4-2.
The Bulls are also 23rd in the College Insider Women’s Top 25.
Fair, the 5’5 guard from Rochester, N.Y. who’s eighth in the nation in points per game (21.9) and was recently named to the Dawn Staley Award late-season watch list, scored or assisted on each of Buffalo’s seven field goals in the final quarter.
She finished with 29 points and four assists after dropping 24 points and seven assists on EMU earlier in the week. Fair also played a full 40 minutes for the second consecutive game.
Buffalo got a few stops to start the fourth quarter and turned defense into offense as they used a 7-0 run, including a beautiful no look pass from Fair to (junior guard Dominique) Camp for two and then five straight points from Fair, to take a 69-64 lead and force a CMU timeout at the 6:09 mark. Fair continued to attack as she blew by her defender for an easy layup to extend the UB run to 11-0 and put the Bulls up 73-64 at the 4:35 mark. Jahari Smith broke a six-plus minute CMU scoring drought to cut the lead to 74-66 at the 2:32 mark and would later trim it to six, but they would get no closer as Camp converted a pair of layups to seal the victory. The Bulls held the Chippewas to just 5-of-18 shooting from the floor and 0-of-6 shooting from behind the arc in the final 10 minutes of play.
Senior forward Summer Hemphill (pictured above, right) nailed down her seventh double-double of the season with 17 points and a game-high 15 rebounds.
Freshman guard Georgia Woolley, who netted a career-high 30 points against Eastern Michigan, scored in double figures (14 points) for the 15th time in the past 16 games.
Fellow frosh Saniaa Wilson, playing in the third game of her UB career after missing the first 18 contests of the season with an injury, celebrated her first college double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds in just 20 minutes.
Up Next: Back Home, Western Michigan
Image from wmubroncos.com
The Broncos come to town on Monday, and unlike the men’s team—one of the worst in Division 1 basketball—Western Michigan’s women’s hoops squad is legitimately competitive. The Broncos are currently 12-7 overall and 6-4 in the MAC following Saturday’s 80-67 home loss to Ball State.
For the game, Western Michigan was led by Hannah Spitzley (pictured above), who finished with her first career double-double, scoring 14 points on 5-10 shooting while pulling in 10 rebounds and packing two Miami shot attempts in her 34 game minutes.
Head coach Shane Clipfell spoke highly of Spitzley post-game: "I definitely loved seeing what she was able to do today. The kid is a winner; she's had some MVP-type games without scoring a point…she's really important. Her ability to score points for us would definitely bolster us for the month of February. We'd like to see that continue."
Reilly Jacobson and Lauren Ross both tallied 16 points each for the second game in a row as Jacobson got 6 of her 12 shot attempts to fall in addition to four boards and three blocks. Ross posted similar shooting numbers, netting 5-12 shots (41.7 percent) while dishing out a pair of dimes and registering two takeaways during her afternoon.
As a team, the Broncos played well offensively, shooting 22-52 (42.3 percent) from the field and 6-20 (30 percent) from three-point territory, while also sinking 17-22 (77.3 percent) from the free throw line. Unfortunately for WMU, Miami played perhaps their best ball of the season, knocking down 29 of 64 (45.3 percent) from the field and 7 of 17 (41.2 percent) from three. The RedHawks also went 15-18 (83.3 percent) from the charity stripe and 8-10 from the line in the fourth quarter alone.
Tipoff is 7 p.m. at Alumni Arena. The game can be viewed on ESPN3.
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UB MEN BOUNCE BACK FROM BLOWOUT WITH A BLOWOUT
Image from ubbulls.com
If ever there was a game that the Buffalo men needed to win, it was Saturday’s road matchup against Central Michigan. After taking consecutive losses to the top two teams in the MAC—including a 21-point loss to Ohio last Saturday that had Head Coach Jim Whitesell stewing—the Bulls (11-8, 5-4) were left with a week to mull over their position as a middle-of-the-pack disappointment whose lofty preseason expectations had, in the course of four late January days, taken a beating.
Get a beating, give a beating—that’s how to get back in this thing, and UB has the good fortune of essentially closing out its season with a stretch of games against the dregs of the conference.
The Bulls took advantage of Saturday, rolling up the 326th-ranked Chippewas in the second game of a women’s-men’s doubleheader in Mount Pleasant, 74-54.
Although Central Michigan men's basketball took down its last three opponents, it couldn't quite pull together a fourth consecutive win against their Mid-American Conference opponent Buffalo on Saturday.
The Chippewas (5-14, 4-4) lost the fight to Buffalo 74-54 (11-8, 5-4).
“We should have had more of a pop, more of a rhythm, more of a sense of urgency, because we are the team that has been playing games and they are the team that has been home resting and not playing, '' said head coach Tony Barbee. “So that is the disappointing thing that they were the team that played harder and tougher. That's what we have done over the course of the last four games not just the last three and we were not that team today.”
The Chippewas shot 2-for-10 from beyond the arc in the first, as they ended the half trailing to Buffalo 34-27. This is the Chippewas second game in a row where three-point shots were cold in the first.
Buffalo came out of the half still hitting shots left and right upping its lead to 10 points. A shining moment of a steal, rebound and a layup from CMU forward Ralph Bissainthe brought Buffalo's lead back in the single digits.
The Chippewas were right around the corner on Buffalo's lead until multiple spurts of cold scoring from the Chippewas sent them into a 16-point deficit. Buffalo took advantage of their opponent's streak of cold scoring upping the lead by 27.
“The Bulls placed four players in double figures in scoring led by 19 points from (senior swingman Jeenathan) Williams, who went 6-of-11 from the floor and 4-of-6 from behind the arc,” noted UBBulls.com. “He added five assists, a career-high four blocked shots, and three rebounds. Ronaldo Segu added 11 points and five assists, while Tra'von Fagan came off the bench and matched his season-high with 11 points, adding seven rebounds.”
Maceo Jack (pictured above), who had nine points and 10 boards, also did this:
…and that’s what you need to do against the Central Michigans of the world.
UB is now fifth in the MAC, although the Bulls do have between one and three games in hand over the teams in front of them due to earlier postponements. Buffalo is 130th in NCAA NET rankings, and received seven votes in the most recent College Insider Mid-Major Top 25.
Also: Ball State inexplicably beat previous league leader Toledo (10-2 in the MAC) by 10 points on Friday, bumping Ohio (10-1 in conference) into the top spot. The two powerhouses play each other at the Rockets’ Savage Arena on Tuesday. The Bulls are slated to play Toledo at home on March 1.
Nothing’s written in stone just yet.
Up Next: Eastern Michigan Pays a Visit
Image from emueagles.com
The Bulls’ Must-Win February continues with another Should-Beat opponent. Eastern Michigan (8-14, 3-8), 262nd in the NCAA NET rankings, stops by Alumni Arena on Tuesday for a 7 p.m. game that can also be viewed on ESPN3.
The Eagles are coming off a 90-71 loss at Kent State, a game EMU led by four at the half before getting outscored by 23 points in the second period.
Offensively, Eastern (8-14, 3-8 MAC) saw a 33-point showing from its bench, as three Eagles scored in double figures. Senior Darion Spottsville's (pictured above) career-high 20 points paced the Eagles. Freshman Noah Farrakhan tacked on 16 points and senior Nate Scott chipped in 11 points. Eastern Michigan's offense was very productive from downtown, knocking down nine threes on 21 attempts. Spottsville was the most prolific shooter for the Eagles, draining four treys on four attempts in the contest, a personal-best.
EMU was outrebounded in the contest, grabbing 27 to Kent State's 34, as N. Scott and freshman Mo Njie each had seven. Additionally, Njie had two blocks and four players earned one steal each.
Including EMU, whom UB plays twice in February, no opponent until March 1—Toledo—has an NCAA NET ranking over 241st. Buffalo also plays Northern Illinois (293) twice in that stretch. Let’s hope the wins keep coming.
YEAH, MO: UB FOOTBALL RECRUITING CLASS IS TOPS IN THE MAC
Image from ubbulls.com
Recruiting—both high school grads and transfer portal candidates—is the name of the game in college football, and UB’s Head Coach Maurice Linguist (pictured above) is a pretty good player.
Linguist just raked in the top recruiting class in the MAC, according to 247sports.com, a significant upgrade from years past in which the Bulls were often at the bottom of the conference talent standings.
“You look at the way recruiting is, and you have this kind of mix of grad transfer guys that can come over, and a wave of guys that have been granted another year of eligibility,” UB coach Maurice Linguist told The Buffalo News. “You look at the amount of efficiency that creates when you have an older guy with a lot of years left, as opposed to maybe taking an 18-year-old high school quarterback. We’re taking advantage of the rules, in a healthy way, and like anything else, in an industry or in business or in sports, you have to keep pace with the changing landscape and body that’s going on right now. We feel like we were very systematic and strategic in how we added the right guys to our roster.”
The 24-member class is comprised of four defensive tackles, four safeties, four wide receivers, three cornerbacks, two tight ends, two offensive linemen, a defensive end, a linebacker, a quarterback, a running back and a nickel back. The newest class comes to UB from 12 different states and the District of Columbia, including Georgia (4), New York (3), Virginia (3), Florida (3), Maryland (2), California (2), Alabama, South Carolina, Mississippi, New Jersey, Texas, New Hampshire and DC.
"We could not be more excited about the young men and families that we have joining us from all over the nation," Linguist said. "Beyond excited about, not just the players, but the outstanding people we are bringing into our program. We feel that we have a great group of bigtime players that fit our culture. We are addressing a lot of needs, length, speed, size, intelligence and leadership. Combined with what we have coming back, we are putting ourselves in a great position to have an outstanding spring, summer and transition into this fall."
18 of the 24-member class enrolled at UB in January.
Rachel Lenzi of The Buffalo News also noted that “(the) class fits into the strategy UB aims for, in Linguist’s first full offseason with the Bulls. That includes creating multiple options at wide receiver in order to open up UB’s offense,” while “(the) Bulls also added length, athleticism and experience on defense, particularly in the secondary.”
Filling the Holes in the Defensive Backfield
Image from bceagles.com
The secondary, as Lenzi wrote, was particularly murderous for Buffalo in Linguist’s first campaign—a sieve that was among the last in the nation in interceptions and seemingly unable to tackle or cover consistently. Just check out a few of the highlights from the Bowling Green game in October for proof.
New recruits Jahmin Muse (pictured above), a well-regarded safety from Boston College, Florida transfer Elijah Blades, Notre Dame transfer Caleb Offord, New Mexico Military Institute transfer Jayden Oliver, safety Keyshawn Cobb from Northeast Mississippi Community College, incoming freshman nickelback Pershaun Cobb, frosh safety Devin Grant, and Butler (Kansas) Community College transfer Tavian Mayo completely reshape the defensive backfield.
How bad did it get last season? Buffalo ranked 70th in long plays allowed in 2021, but was 85th in 20+ yard plays allowed (61) and 108th in 30+ yard plays allowed (32).
Even more dramatically, the Bulls were tied for eighth from last in Division 1 football in 40+ yard plays allowed (22), fifth from last in 50+ yard plays allowed (15), and second to last in 60+ yard plays allowed (10), 70+ yard plays allowed (six), and 80+ yard plays allowed (two).
Much of this was due to huge plays developing from blown coverages or missed tackles on the second and third levels. Ideally, these mistakes will be a thing of the past, especially with the addition of new defensive coordinator Brandon Bailey, a former defensive assistant at Texas A&M, who replaces Joe Cauthen.
“Bailey was part of a staff whose defense was not only one of the best in the SEC but also nationally,” reports UBBulls.com.”Each of his last two seasons at Texas A&M, the Aggies ranked third in the SEC in total defense. In 2021, Texas A&M ranked 14th in the nation in total defense.”
We’ll take it.
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