Hardwood Report Card

The Spectrum grades the Bulls' opening weekend split against South Dakota State and No. 1 Kentucky

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The men’s basketball team (1-1) split its season opening weekend, defeating South Dakota State (0-1) 69-67 Friday night in Alumni Arena before falling 71-52 to the No. 1 team in the country, Kentucky (2-0), in Lexington Sunday. Buffalo led Kentucky 38-33 at halftime before the Wildcats outscored the Bulls 38-14 in the second half.

Three-point shooting: D

Buffalo never got the three-point game going this weekend, shooting just 5 for 21 in its two games. After shooting just 1 of 9 from beyond the arc Friday against South Dakota State, the Bulls had an improved performance Saturday against the Wildcats – going 4-of-12 from three-point range.

All four of those baskets were made by junior guard Jarryn Skeete, however, and through two games only Skeete and sophomore guard Shannon Evans have made a shot from beyond the arc this season.

Foul shooting: B+

The Bulls shot better than 80 percent from the free-throw line this weekend. Junior forward Justin Moss had a nice two games at the line – making all 13 of his free throw attempts.

The only reason this score is not an ‘A’ is because Evans missed two out of his four free throw attempts in the final 30 seconds of Friday’s game. Evans twice had an opportunity to put Buffalo ahead by four but failed to do so both times. It ultimately didn’t cost Buffalo, as it won 69-67, but the team will have to improve on making free throws with the game on the line.

Ball control: C-

The Bulls had 25 turnovers compared to just 13 assists in their two games. Buffalo had particularly bad ball control Sunday against Kentucky as it committed 17 turnovers and only five assists.

Evans and freshman guard Lamonte Bearden are the only Bulls with assists through two games. More players need to get their teammates good looks if Buffalo’s offense is going to be efficient this season.

Overall offense: C

It’s a little hard to judge the Bulls’ offense after two games considering one of those games was against Kentucky. Shooting 4 of 19 in the second half Sunday is bad – regardless of the fact Kentucky is No. 1.

The Bulls shot only 33 percent from the field this weekend, could not get the three-point shooting game going or get senior forward Will Regan, their only preseason All Mid-American Conference East player, involved. Regan did not make a field goal in either game.

Moss’ emergence is a good sign that Buffalo has a centerpiece to build its offense around, however, as has Javon McCrea and Mitchell Watt in recent years.

Rebounding: C

The Bulls outrebounded South Dakota State by only two Friday and were outrebounded by 20 against Kentucky Sunday. The Wildcats were simply too big and athletic for Buffalo to contend with on the boards.

Defense: A-

The fact that Buffalo held the No. 1 team in the country to just 71 points is very impressive. The defense did wear down somewhat in the second half against Kentucky but still held the Wildcats to 41 percent shooting. Buffalo’s offense was at its best last season when the defense was creating turnovers and creating fast break opportunities, and the Bulls’ defense caused 14 turnovers in each game this weekend.

Bench production: C-

Junior forward Rodell Wigginton’s 15 points Sunday saved the Bulls from getting an ‘F’ in this category. If you take away his performance against Kentucky, Buffalo’s bench scored just 14 points in its first two games. Senior forward Xavier Ford had eight points and nine rebounds Friday coming off the bench, but failed to score Sunday.

Buffalo will need more bench production moving forward.

Coaching: A

Head coach Bobby Hurley deserves credit for Buffalo’s 38-33 halftime lead over the No. 1 team in the country on Sunday. The Bulls looked like the better team and the moment did not seem ‘too-big’ for them.

Their second half performance is less a reflection of Hurley’s performance as a coach as it is Kentucky’s immensely superior talent. He also deserves credit for the Bulls’ composure in pulling out the two-point win Friday night and designing the offense to get Moss the ball when he got hot Friday.

email: sports@ubspectrum.com