Men’s basketball (13-15, 7-8 MAC) won in blowout fashion, 63-35, against Central Michigan (10-18, 5-10 MAC) at Alumni Arena on Tuesday night. The Chippewas’ 35 points is the fewest points ever allowed by UB to a Mid-American Conference opponent. The last time UB played CMU on Jan. 14, the Bulls suffered a 87-78 overtime road loss.
The game was “Gun Violence Awareness Night,” an idea proposed by senior forward LaQuill Hardnett. The Bulls wore “End Gun Violence” warm-up shirts and orange — the color of gun violence awareness — socks.
The Bulls’ defense forced CMU to shoot just 29.8% from the field and 0-13 from three. UB made it difficult for the Chippewas to find open shots all night, and when CMU had opportunities, they couldn’t capitalize.
UB also forced 23 turnovers, with 17 steals, which led to 27 points.
“We may not be the most muscular team, but we have really good length,” head coach Jim Whitesell said after the game. “That helped us deflect the ball and slow things down.”
The Bulls came out hot after CMU took a 2-0 lead, scoring 20 unanswered points. CMU didn’t score their second basket till 8:44 left in the half and didn’t eclipse 10 points till 1:19 remaining in the first half. UB led 36-14 at halftime.
Hardnett led the Bulls with eight points in the first half, finishing the game with 10.
The second half was more of the same for the Chippewas, as they were only able to tally 21 points in the frame. UB cruised to victory with four players scoring in double figures.
Along with Hardnett, junior guard Zid Powell (10 pts), junior forward Isaiah Adams (12 pts) and sophomore guard Curtis Jones (game-high 14 pts) carried UB to victory.
Despite a solid offensive night, Jones concentrated on UB’s defensive domination.
“When you play a team a second time you tend to pick up on [their] concepts”, Jones said after the game. “It’s never easy to play defense — but it’s a little easier — you remember some of the action the other team runs”
With the win, UB moved to sixth in the MAC, jumping Northern Illinois (11-17, 7-8 MAC). The top eight teams make the MAC Tournament next month in Cleveland. UB is two games ahead of eighth-place CMU with three games remaining in the regular season.
The Bulls’ next game is at red-hot, first-place Toledo (22-6, 13-2 MAC) on Saturday, then they will play at seventh place Northern Illinois on Tuesday, Feb. 28. The Toledo game can be seen on ESPN3, and Northern Illinois can be seen on ESPN+.
UB concludes the season with senior night against Miami (OH) (10-18, 4-11 MAC) at Alumni Arena on Friday, March 3. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. and the game can be seen on ESPN+.
Ryan Tantalo is the senior sports editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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