Bulls defeat Miami Ohio behind career-game by Moss

Buffalo scores 48 second-half points in win

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The men’s basketball team – who average six three-point makes per game this season – had to “figure out another way to win the basketball game” on Saturday according to head coach Bobby Hurley. The Bulls did not hit a three-point shot in a game for the first time this season (0 for 12).

But Hurley’s hope wasn’t to beat Miami Ohio on the perimeter.

“They play different than most teams,” Hurley said. “They’re very small and very scrappy and they mix their defenses up. It was a challenge to get into a comfort level playing offense…We wanted to win in the paint.”

Buffalo did just that.

The Bulls (12-4, 3-1 Mid-American Conference) defeated Miami Ohio (6-11, 1-3 MAC) 77-68 on Saturday at Alumni Arena. Buffalo outscored the RedHawks 46-28 in the paint. The team is undefeated at home this season (6-0) and has won 19 of its last 20 games played in Buffalo.

“There’s going to be times when you don’t have your “A” game offensively,” Hurley said. “That wasn’t the way we needed to win today. We need to find ways to win a basketball game. I think we did it with how we defended in the first nine minutes of the second half.”

Buffalo was down 32-29 at the end of the first half due to the teams’ paltry 38 percent shooting from the field. But the Bulls went on a 12-4 run to begin the second half. The RedHawks did not score their first field goal of the half until there was 10:49 remaining in the game.

In the second half, Miami Ohio shot 34 percent from the field and just 16 percent (2 of 12) from beyond the arc after shooting 50 percent in the first half. Buffalo outscored the RedHawks by 18 points in the paint.

One of the biggest reasons for the dominant inside game was junior forward Justin Moss. Moss registered a career-high 31 points on 10-of-15 shooting and 15 rebounds in the win. Moss registered 22 points and 10 rebounds in the second half alone.

The MAC-leader in points and rebounds per game also registered his ninth double-double of the season.

“He’s having a dominant year,” Hurley said. “He’s playing with a ton of confidence. He wants the ball. He can score in a variety of ways.”

Senior forward Xavier Ford finished with 13 points and 8 rebounds while coming off the bench. In two games against the RedHawks this season, Ford has averaged 15 points and seven rebounds while being a defensive mainstay in the paint.

Hurley also praises the energy he brings to the team. With seven minutes left to play in the game, Ford stole the ball and jumped into the seats and had enough time to get back to the other side of the court to score the basket and further the lead.

“X’s production per minutes played this year has been off the charts,” Hurley said. “For the amount of minutes he’s playing, the points, the energy on defense, the rebounding. He’s having a terrific year.”

Sophomore guard Shannon Evans scored 17 points, three assists, two rebounds and one block. Freshman guard Lamonte Bearden ended with two points and a team-high seven assists. Junior forward Rodell Wigginton added nine points and five rebounds coming off the bench.

Hurley admits this was one of the closest contests for the team this season. But he wants to see more games like this one.

“They challenged us,” Hurley said. “We had to grind out a win and play a close game and figure out how to win. It’s something that we haven’t done a ton of this year.”

The Bulls continue conference play on Wednesday, Jan. 21 when they travel to Mount Pleasant, Michigan to take on Central Michigan (12-2, 2-1 MAC). Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.

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