Bulls face Bonnies in Big Four showdown
After rough start to season, Buffalo has found its groove
Published: Thursday, December 5, 2013
Updated: Thursday, December 5, 2013 16:12
The men’s basketball’s senior class has an opportunity to accomplish something it’s been unable to the previous three seasons – defeat St. Bonaventure.
After three losses by a combined 11 points, this is the class’ final chance to win this Western New York showcase.
The Bulls (2-2) host St. Bonaventure (6-2) on Saturday as they look to advance to 3-0 at Alumni Arena this season.
“I think the guys will be really fired up,” said head coach Bobby Hurley. “This senior class hasn’t beaten St. Bonaventure yet, and we have some guys who have accomplished a lot individually, and this is a game I know they are excited for.”
The Bulls dropped their first of three Big Four matchups, 92-81 at Niagara Nov. 13.
The most noticeable difference for Buffalo in its two-game win streak has been its defense. Buffalo allowed 92 and 82 in its opening two losses, but the Bulls have held opponents to only 60.5 points per game in their two victories.
“I think the tipping point was the Niagara game and giving up 92 points,” Hurley said. “We didn’t consider that acceptable for if we are going to have the kind of season we need to have.”
Senior forward Javon McCrea has recorded eight blocks in the past two games after swatting away only four in the first two games of the season.
The offense has been the definition of a balanced attack as of late. The Bulls had five scorers with at least nine points in their two victories and no Buffalo player scored over 20 points.
“We want to be able to be difficult to guard, and if you have multiple guys who can score and provide balance, it’s even harder to guard,” Hurley said.
Buffalo has won the battle at the free throw line as of late, with 23 more visits to the line (63-40) than their opponents in the winning streak
Matthew Wright leads the Bonnies in both scoring (18.4 points per game) and assists (3.9). Wright, the point guard, is the creator of St. Bonaventure’s offense. It’s important that Hurley’s defense has accounted for him at all times. Wright had 31 points in the Bonnies’ 83-71 victory over Southern Illinois.
Hurley described Bona guard Charlon Kloof as “an elite athlete we must keep away from the paint.” The Bonnies have struggled from deep – shooting only 28 percent as a team – and Hurley said forcing them to shoot outside will be key in the game.
Buffalo hosts the Bonnies on Saturday for its last home game until Dec. 23. Tip is set for 2 p.m. at Alumni Arena and the game will air on Time Warner Sports Network.