Men’s basketball (0-1) began the 105th season in program history with a loss to the No. 6 Michigan Wolverines (1-0), 88-76, Wednesday night at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, MI.
It was UB’s first game against a Big Ten opponent since the 2014-15 season.
Senior forward Jeenathan Williams picked up right where he left off, scoring the first points of the season for the Bulls. Williams dropped a career-high 32 points on 14-of-22 shooting to go along with eight rebounds. He scored at will against one of the top teams in the country and his heroics largely kept the Bulls in the game.
Senior point guard Ronaldo Segu also impressed with 15 points and four assists. The Orlando native was the floor general who led UB’s offensive attack and hit multiple big shots to keep the Bulls within striking distance.
The Wolverines dominated the first half, leading the Bulls by as many as 21 before heading into halftime with a 15-point lead.
Following an impressive freshman season that saw him gain national attention and win Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors, sophomore center Hunter Dickinson led the way for the Wolverines with 27 points and six rebounds. UB threw multiple defenders at him — including senior forward Josh Mballa, graduate center Brock Bertram and redshirt sophomore center David Skogman — but were unable to contain him.
UB head coach Jim Whitesell made adjustments at halftime, and UB came out of the tunnel much more aggressive in the second half, taking better care of the ball and taking more efficient shots.
But every time the Bulls pulled close, Michigan answered back with a quick basket to hold onto its lead. UB remained extremely competitive and cut the UM lead to as little as five, but an assault of three-pointers down the stretch left the Bulls scrambling to remain in the game.
With less than six minutes remaining, sophomore forward Terrance Williams II and freshman forward Caleb Houstan landed successive three-pointers to bring the Wolverines’ lead up to 84-69. Williams scored 15 points and Houstan added 11 in UM’s winning effort.
Michigan’s 12-point margin of victory was cemented by the club’s 54.2% field goal and 40.0% three point averages, to UB’s 41.2% and 17.9%. Senior guard Maceo Jack, in particular, struggled for the Bulls, shooting an inefficient 1-of-8 from the three-point arc. Despite this, possession and rebounds only narrowly lay in the Wolverines’ favor, with their 10 turnovers and 39 rebounds barely topping Buffalo’s 9 and 37.
The Bulls were the clear underdog from the get-go but fought hard to keep up with and challenge the Wolverines. The Bulls never backed down from the sixth-ranked team in the country, as they played with great intensity — there were three double technical fouls — and composure. Williams and Segu provided the impetus the Bulls needed to successfully keep the game competitive.
The Bulls will return to action against the North Texas Mean Green at the UNT Coliseum on Monday at 7:00 p.m.
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