Discover more from UB In 5
UB MEN TAKE CARE OF BUSINESS AT BALL STATE
Plus: Women's basketball schedule reshuffled; Cauthen reportedly out as football DC
Image from thestarpress.com
I’m not going to start by telling you the Ball State men’s basketball team was a giant in need of slaying.
Entering Friday night’s game with Buffalo, the Cardinals (7-9 overall, 2-2 in Mid-American Conference play) had respectable wins over UMass, Indiana State, and Bowling Green. They also got whomped by 46 points at #17 Xavier and lost by 21 to an Illinois State squad on whom the Bulls (9-6, 3-2) dropped 106 points back in November.
BSU ranks in the mid-to-high 200s in Ken Pomeroy’s ratings and the NCAA NET rankings. Leading scorers Luke Bumbalough and Tyler Cochran, both junior guards, average a whisper under 13 points per game apiece.
We’re not talking about the ‘76 Hoosiers here.
With that in mind, every conference game is critical, and road wins are like blue-chip stocks—you want as many in your portfolio as possible. It’s also great to be challenged in a tight game, away from home, and prove yourself worthy.
UB checked those boxes in its 74-68 win at Ball State. It was the Blue and White’s third conference victory in a row after losing its first two MAC games, and sealed a clean 2-0 midwestern road trip.
Sprinting to the finish line
A lead, lost: Buffalo led by nine with 15:18 remaining in the second half before giving up a 13-2 BSU run to fall behind, 50-48, at the 12:29 mark. That’s fast! We’ve seen the Bulls cough up healthy leads in the not-to-distant-past—looking at the Miami (Ohio) and Akron losses, specifically—but our guys didn’t let this one get away.
Segu sparks a stretch run: Down 56-54 after Cardinals center Payton Sparks hit a layup in the paint with 9:30 left in the game, the Bulls went on a 20-12 run to seal the win. For the second consecutive game, senior point guard Ronaldo Segu was the steady hand on the throttle, scoring nine points, collecting four rebounds, dishing out a pair of assists and blocking a shot over this final stretch.
Skogman: Unstoppable? And, for the third game in a row, sophomore forward David Skogman recorded a double-double. Skogman—who scored four points and had two rebounds in the closing 10 minutes of the game—ended the night with 16 points and 11 boards starting in place of senior forward Josh Mballa, the former MAC Defensive Player of the Year, who returned to the lineup Tuesday after missing two games with COVID.
Flexing on the Cardinals
UB threw its weight around on the Cards. Skogman (6’10, 228 pounds) and Mballa (6’7, 220 pounds) combined for 21 points and 16 rebounds, neutralizing an 18-point, 16-rebound performance from Sparks, Ball State’s 6’9, 240-pound freshman center, a former Indiana small school all-state and conference high school player of the year.
Buffalo outrebounded the Cardinals, 45-35, and blocked five shots—including four in the critical stretch to close out the second half.
The Bulls also harried Ball State from behind the arc, as Robby General of The Muncie (Ind.) Star-Press noted:
Ball State had its worst 3-point shooting night of the year.
Shooting 37.1% on the season, Ball State was the second-best 3-point shooting team in the MAC and the 44th-best in the NCAA. The Cardinals shot 2-for-12 from 3 in the first half, missed their first four 3s to start the second half and finished 4-for-25 (16%). Their previous worst was their 22.6% (7-for-31) effort against Xavier.
Senior forward Jeenathan Williams bounced back from an atypically shaky shooting night in Tuesday’s 78-64 win over Western Michigan with an eight-for-15 performance from the floor (including three of five from three) for a team-high 20 points. He also did this:
Segu added 14 points with seven assists and six boards, and senior swingman Maceo Jack scored 10 points and grabbed five rebounds.
More importantly for Jack were his two made three-pointers, the second time in three games he connected on a pair of three-point attempts in a game. Jack had struggled mightily from distance after shooting four-of-eight against Western Kentucky on Dec. 8. He went a combined 0-for-16 against St. John Fisher, Canisius, Miami (Ohio), and Akron before connecting on two of six against Bowling Green on Jan. 5, one of three against WMU on Jan. 11, and two of five vs. Ball State.
Now, the bad news. If you’re the type who needs a reason to worry, consider UB’s ongoing struggles from the free throw line—they’re making 70% per game, but shot under that mark in six of the past eight contests— and weren’t always clean in either the defensive half court or transition.
Ball State…finished with 11 turnovers compared to Buffalo's 13 and gave up just one steal in the second half. Buffalo held a 15-5 advantage in assists but the Cardinals had more second chance points (15-14), points off turnovers (17-9), points in the paint (32-26) and fast break points (13-12).
Still, Buffalo shot 40.6% (26-for-64) from the field, 35.5% (11-for-31) from 3 and 64.7% (11-for-17) from the free throw line.
"Our guys really fought hard against a good Ball State squad, and I am really happy to come away with the win," Head Coach Jim Whitesell told UBBulls.com. "It was really good road trip for us, and we are going to continue to work on building this momentum."
Sounds about right. Buffalo plays next on Tuesday, Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. against Central Michigan (2-12, 1-2). The game can be viewed on ESPN3.
UB WOMEN’S SCHEDULE SHUFFLED AGAIN
Image from ubbulls.com
You may have noticed the UB women did not, in fact, play Western Michigan on Saturday. Postponements strike again!
The Mid-American Conference announced today the rescheduling of multiple women's basketball contests.
Buffalo's game against Western Michigan, originally scheduled for Saturday, January 15, has been moved to Monday, February 7 at 7pm. Additionally, UB's game against Kent State has been rescheduled for Monday, January 17 at 5pm and the game at Ohio has been moved to Monday, January 24.
Fans who had tickets for the original games against Kent State and Western Michigan should use those tickets for the rescheduled dates.
So Monday it is…unless it’s not. Stay tuned.
UB FOOTBALL NOTES: CAUTHEN OUT, APPARENTLY; GROSS INTO, WALLACE OUT OF TRANSFER PORTAL; 2022 OPPONENTS RELEASED
There’s no offseason in football! News continues to trickle in regarding the Bulls’ program. Here’s what we heard this week:
Defensive coordinator Joe Cauthen is out, apparently
Image from @CoachJoeCauthen
Never accuse Coach Mo of being indecisive when it comes to personnel.
Buffalo coach Maurice Linguist, according to football scoop, is parting ways with Joe Cauthen after just one season in Buffalo. Cauthen and Linguist both worked together at Valdosta State in 2008, he was a solid pick up for Linguist who had to assemble a staff in a very short time last season.
UB’s defense did show some promise at points in the season but Buffalo allowed an average of more than 38 points per game during their last third of the season, and that cost UB a shot at a winning record in Linguist’s first season at the helm.
Some ugly memories from 2021:
The Bulls’ defense was 69th in 3rd down percentage (.388) and 93rd in the nation in points allowed per game at 29.92. The unit was second to last in Division 1 in passes intercepted, with three.
UB allowed 444.4 yards per game—107th in the country. Buffalo was 116th against the run, giving up over 210 yards per game, and a “better” 72nd against the pass, as opponents threw for 234 yards per game on Cauthen’s defense.
In a must-win game against Bowling Green on Oct. 30, the Bulls lost to a two-win Falcons squad by surrendering 56 points, 484 yards, and 221 rushing yards to a team averaging less than 20 points, 315 yards, and the third-fewest rushing yards per game in D1.
I wrote this after UB fell to Miami (Ohio), 45-18, in another can’t-lose game the following week: “The killer here is the secondary, which allows over 12 yards per completed pass and has picked off only three balls this season. In 10 games, this last line of defense has allowed 46(!) pass plays for 30 yards or more, including 12 40+ yard passes and nine 50+ yard passes…Catastrophe has struck too many times because of inexplicably gaping holes in the defensive backfield, cringeworthy missed tackles in run support, teeth-grinding mental mistakes, and spring-practice blown coverages that continue to happen, week after week. It’s made everything bad about this defense significantly worse.”
It all adds up to a lost job, especially when Head Coach Maurice Linguist came to Buffalo brimming with optimism while making bold statements about running the best program in the country. The results didn’t match the talk. Linguist’s not going to fire himself, so Cauthen, for the second time in a year, is reportedly looking for work.
(Ed. note—Cauthen still appears on UB’s website and we haven’t seen this reported elsewhere, although his Twitter account no longer includes Buffalo references in his bio, which you can still see cached in Google’s search results, for now).
Cory Gross is entering the transfer portal, but Gabe Wallace is coming back
Image from ubbulls.com
Well, I just spent a few paragraphs slagging the Bulls’ defense and the secondary, in particular, so now is probably a good time to report that UB safety Cory Gross (pictured above) is entering the transfer portal.
The three-star, 6’2, 205-pound Rochester (N.Y.) native started eight games in the defensive backfield last season, recording 68 total tackles. His potential defection marks yet another three-star player exiting the program, which is particularly concerning because of the loss of three-star freshman cornerback Quillen Howze to the portal in late November, as well.
Linguist is a longtime secondary coach, however, so maybe it’s a case of getting his kind of guys into, and out of, Buffalo.
Speaking of three-star recruits leaving town—freshman edge rusher Chris King, a 6’3, 235-pound prospect from Middle Village, N.Y., has committed to Monmouth. He did not record a stat in his lone season for the Bulls before entering the transfer portal.
Gabe Wallace, a 6’6, 305-pound guard who started 12 games in 2021 has removed himself from the portal, as he’s self-reported on his Twitter account. This is good news, as UB hemorrhaged offensive linemen throughout 2021—including former starting center Bence Polgar, who hooked up with Missouri on New Year’s Eve.
Buffalo’s 2022 football opponents have been announced, and the non-conference slate is…I’m not sure
Image from umd.edu
What can you say about the 2022 docket? The season opener’s at Maryland, a team that’s usually good for an upset or two until the Big 10 schedule kicks in. A trip to the surf turf at Coastal Carolina could be compelling.
Other non-conference opponents include UMass—arguably the worst team in the country, although UConn has something to say about that—and FCS Holy Cross, which hopefully add up to a pair of easy wins towards bowl eligibility.
It’s tough to get excited about these games, to be honest, as we saw Coastal last year, and Maryland’s…Maryland. The Terps last won more than seven games in 2010.
Here’s the official release:
Akron, Kent State, Miami (OH) and Toledo will visit UB Stadium. Buffalo will travel to Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan and Ohio. Dates for conference games will be announced later.
The Bulls will also play four non-conference games in 2022 beginning with the opener at Maryland on September 3. UB will host Holy Cross on September 10 at UB Stadium. The Bulls will close out non-conference play with games at Coastal Carolina on September 17 and at UMass on October 15.
Seven of the Bulls' 2022 opponents played in bowl games in 2021.
You made it to the end! Subscribe for free to receive new posts as soon as they’re released.