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Late surge guides Iowa State past UB Bulls

Buffalo hangs tough but No. 2 Cyclones dominate second half

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For about minutes 30 minutes Monday night, the Buffalo men’s basketball team hung tough with the No. 2 team in the country and was in striking distance of what would have been one of the biggest upsets of the young college basketball season.

But as head coach Nate Oats said after the final whistle, playing well for 30 minutes doesn’t win the game.

“We showed that for 30 minutes we could play with the No. 2 team in the country, but 30 doesn’t win you a college basketball game – 40 minutes does,” Oats said. “Until we figure out the game plan for 40 minutes, we’re not going to beat good teams like that.”

Iowa State (7-0), ranked No. 2 in the entire country in the latest USA Today Coaches Poll, defeated the Bulls (4-5) 84-63 behind a late second-half surge at the Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa Monday night. After Buffalo pulled it to a one-point game with 13:21 remaining in regulation, the Cyclones finished out the game on a 37-17 run to close out a pesky Bulls squad. Buffalo has now lost three straight including its past two games against two of the top-10 teams in the country.

After a 34-25 halftime deficit, the Bulls went on an impressive 21-13 run to open the second half and cut the deficit to just 47-46. But it was the closest the Bulls would get after Iowa State took control of the game, thanks in part to Georges Niang, a potential All-American selection who finished with a career-high 31 points with 12 rebounds.

While Oats was impressed with his defense, remarking he thinks the Bulls “showed the capability to defend anyone in the country,” he said the offense has to move the ball better.

“We’re down, we’re not moving it. Part of it might be on the coaches and figuring it up what works,” Oats said. “At times the offense looks good, at times we look selfish and don’t want to move the ball. We’re still working on it.”

Buffalo shot just 34 percent from the field and missed 22 three-point shots, as it hit just 8 of 30.

There were some positives for the Buffalo offense, however, in particular the play of senior guard Jarryn Skeete in the second half. Skeete scored all 16 of his points after halftime, including 11 within the first six minutes of the second half to help Buffalo close in on Iowa State’s lead.

The senior has struggled to score consistently this season, including a rough two-game stretch before Monday’s game in which he shot just 2 of 15 from the field. But Oats expressed confidence in Skeete, while admitting that he wanted to the guard more touches offensively.

“People were asking if I was worried about him and I was, ‘No, I’m not worried about Skeete,’” Oats said. “He’s one of the best shooters I’ve ever coached. Great teammate and a leader and when we needed scoring, he stepped up and scored it well.”

Sophomore guard Lamonte Bearden finished with 11 points and three assists, while freshman forward Nick Perkins had nine points and four rebounds.

After missing the team’s first eight games with a stress fracture in his foot, senior forward Raheem Johnson returned to play 16 minutes, score four points, grab seven rebounds and block a shot. Oats said Johnson is still not 100 percent and was hurting Monday, but was impressed with his play.

Oats called Johnson’s return “big,” as it allows the team to play a different style with Perkins playing more of a power forward role.

After its two-game road trip against No. 8 Duke (8-1) and Iowa State, the Bulls return home to Alumni Arena to face Binghamton (2-6) on Saturday. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.

Quentin Haynes is the co-senior sports editor and can be reached at quentin.haynes@ubspectrum.com. Follow him on Twitter at @HaynesTheWriter


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