UB men’s basketball dropped to 10-12 (4-5 MAC) with a 81-64 home loss to Akron (16-6, 8-1 MAC) on Tuesday night. The Bulls haven’t lost more than 12 games since the 2016-17 season, when the team went 17-15 (11-7 MAC). UB has nine regular season games remaining in 2023.
The Zips dominated, leading for nearly 39 of the 40 minutes played. UB turned the ball over 18 times, resulting in 26 Akron points. The Bulls shot 24-for-57 (42.1%) from the field and 5-for-20 (25%) from three.
A “blue out” crowd at Alumni Arena had little to cheer for in the first half. The high point of the night had nothing to do with basketball, as UB football coach Maurice Linguist led his squad onto the court during a timeout and brandished the Bulls’ Camellia Bowl trophy. Students, who returned to campus Monday for the spring semester, applauded the football team for the first time since its December bowl win in Montgomery, Alabama.
Akron led 42-25 at the break, fueled by 16 points from senior guard Xavier Castaneda, who scored 10 in the first five minutes, and finished the game with 32.
The Bulls cut into the Zips’ lead in the second half, getting within 12 points. The UB offense started to click, encapsulated by a Zid Powell poster dunk. The slam was a highlight for the junior guard, who scored nine points on rough 3-for-14 shooting.
The Bulls kept pace with Akron in the second half but couldn’t claw their way back from the 17-point halftime deficit.
Sophomore guard Curtis Jones once again led the Bulls in scoring with 20 points while shooting 3-for-8 from three. Junior forward Isaiah Adams added another 13 points for the Bulls.
Led by Castaneda’s game-high 32 points, the Zips showed why they’re one of the favorites to win the MAC Tournament next month in Cleveland. They’re tied for first in the conference with Kent State (18-4, 8-1 MAC).
Sophomore forward Enrique Freeman proved to be a nice complement to Castaneda as he tallied 18 points and nine rebounds for Akron.
UB dropped to sixth in the MAC standings after the loss. The Bulls will be on the road Saturday against Western Michigan 6-16 (2-7 MAC), losers of five-straight games. The game tips off Saturday at 2:30 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN3.
Ryan Tantalo is the senior sports editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Brandon Cochi is an assistant sports editor and can be reached at email@example.com