Evans' career game gives Buffalo a victory in final nonconference matchup
Shannon Evans scores 33, goes 8 of 11 from beyond the arc in 92-73 victory over Cornell
Shannon Evans – who recorded his first career triple-double last Tuesday - did not score a single point through the first 15:49of the Buffalo’s men’s basketball game against Cornell Saturday. With 4:11 remaining in the first half, Buffalo trailed by seven and had allowed a 13-0 Big Red run.
But in the next 24-plus minutes, Evans took the game into his own hands and crafted another career night for himself.
“Shannon’s a winner. He thinks about winning first. He got a sense that we were not at our best in the first half and he needed to step up,” said head coach Bobby Hurley.
The sophomore guard scored 33 points – a career best – over the final 24:11 of the game and the Bulls (9-3) recorded a 92-73 victory over Cornell Saturday afternoon at Alumni Arena in front of an announced crowd of 3,192. The game was Buffalo’s last nonconference matchup before Mid-American Conference play begins.
“Early I really didn’t have a good feel for the game,” Evans said. “I wasn’t doing much but as the game went along I got my feel.”
Evans scored 33 points on 9-of-14 shooting. Hurley called Evans’ performance “one of the great games” he’d seen since arriving at Buffalo in 2013. Evans went 8 of 11 from beyond the arc Saturday as Buffalo shot 50 percent from 3-point range as a team. Evans’ eight 3-pointers were also a career high.
The Bulls trailed by as many as nine points in the first half in part due to Cornell’s 13-0 first-half run. When Buffalo trailed 33-24, the Bulls went on a run of its own for a lead that would not be relinquished.
Evans scored 11 of the Bulls’ final 17 points as Buffalo ended the first half on a 17-6 run. The Bulls ended the half with a 41-39 lead.
After shooting just 43.3 percent from the field in the first half, Buffalo shot 59 percent second half and went on two 8-0 runs to pull away from Cornell.
The Bulls went up 19 points – its second-largest lead of the game – after an Evans dunk with 8:19 remaining. Cornell went on its own 8-0 run pull the score within 11 with a little more than six minutes remaining, silencing the Alumni Arena crowd. Evans then scored the game’s next five points, however, to bring the Buffalo lead to 16. The Bulls led by at least 14 for the remainder of the game.
Evans wasn’t the only Bull to have a career night, however.
Freshman guard Lamonte Bearden recorded his first career double-double, scoring 14 points and adding 10 assists. Junior guard Rodell Wigginton also scored 14 points in his third straight game starting for junior guard Jarryn Skeete. Skeete has missed the last three games due to an ankle injury.
Hurley said he will evaluate Skeete Sunday and there is a “good chance” Skeete will play Wednesday in Buffalo’s conference-opening matchup.
Junior forward Justin Moss scored 11 points and grabbed four rebounds before fouling out with 7:05 remaining. Senior forward Will Regan added nine points and five rebounds.
This is the second straight season Buffalo finishes undefeated at home in the nonconference schedule. The Bulls advance to 17-1 in Alumni Arena under Hurley. The Bulls’ have nine wins this season before the starting MAC play – their highest total since the 2010-11 season.
Buffalo finished last season 6-4 in nonconference competition and lost three games by double digits. Two of Buffalo’s three losses this season was against two of the top-10 teams in the country, including No. 1 Kentucky. Hurley said this year’s team understands his system better than last year’s squad.
“This year’s team has enough veteran players that understand the system that can we can feel we can right out of the gate and that’s probably why the record is better than it was last year,” Hurley said.
The Bulls begin MAC play Wednesday when they travel to Oxford, Ohio to face Miami Ohio (4-8).
“There’s a little more fire going into conference play,” Evans said. “We had a good nonconference schedule, we played well, but conference is where it counts the most. If you’re going to play in the tournament, you have to play well in the conference.”
Wednesday’s tipoff is set for 7 p.m.