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Bulls Look for Lucky Seven in Michigan

Sports Editor

Published: Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11


Courtesy of Jason Paul Kaufman

Trey Zieleger hopes to lead the Chippewas to an upset victory over the Bulls on Wednesday night in Michigan.


After a thrilling come-from-behind triumph against Toledo (10-13, 2-7 Mid-American Conference), the men's basketball team is looking to continue its demolition of MAC West competition.

Buffalo (14-6, 7-2 MAC) takes its show on the road as they take on Central Michigan (7-15, 2-7 MAC) Wednesday.

The Chippewas come into the contest following Saturday's 68-42 loss at Ohio (19-4, 7-2 MAC), and the team's young talent is struggling to win. Despite two squads' differences in the win column, head coach Reggie Witherspoon knows firsthand the level of competition that the Bulls have to face night in and night out.

"One of the good things about our conference is the parity," Witherspoon said. "Every team presents a challenge and every team is pretty close to as good of a team as the one we just played. It's been a while since we won at Central [Michigan] so there's a big challenge for us."

The challenge in this game is to curtail the exploits of Central Michigan's 6-foot-5 guard Trey Ziegler. The sophomore has led the team in a number of categories and is the leading scoring threat with 15.8 points per game. He's also tops on the team in total rebounds with 151, and in assists with 57.

"He's an explosive athlete," Witherspoon said. "He's very versatile; he handles the ball well, he gets to the basket. He plays in the post as a forward and he can also play the point sometimes. He's a talented kid."

Ziegler isn't the only scorer on the roster. Two other Chippewa players have double-digit scoring averages to compliment the coach's son. Guard Derrick Jackson with 11.1, and guard Austin McBroom with 10.6 round out the team's leading scorers.

Stopping this trio of scoring guards will be key for containing a Chippewa offense that is tied for second with the Bulls in 3-point baskets made per game in conference play with 6.8. 

"We have to make their shots as difficult as possible," Witherspoon said. "That's our goal, to get a hand up on every shot. We want to limit them to no more than one shot. If we can find a way of keeping them from getting easy baskets - they will make tough shots - but we want to make the shots as tough as we can."

The consistent theme in the Bulls' six-game winning streak has been their rebounding and defensive efforts.

The Bulls are currently ranked third in the country with 41.6 rebounds per game. The Bulls have been tremendously consistent in this facet throughout the year.

"We work on rebounding every single day, and we realize that it's an important part of the game," said Witherspoon. "We've been consistently one of the better rebounding teams in the country and that's because we work and focus on it every single day."

The Bulls' rebounding success is something that they should be able to continue against the worst rebounding team in the MAC. The Chippewas have been unable to control the glass this year, pulling down only 33 boards per game.

On the defensive front, Buffalo is the best in the MAC at opponent field goal percentage, at just 37 percent. The guards have been playing aggressive in their 2-3 matchup zone, and with the shot-altering presence of senior forward Mitchell Watt in the low block, teams have had trouble getting easy looks as of late.

"If we can defend well and rebound well there's a chance for us to have success, and we have done that," Witherspoon said. "We've been doing that consistently we just have to keep doing it better."

The Bulls will look to make it seven in a row as they travel to take on the Chippewas Wednesday night at McGuirk Arena in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.



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