Men’s basketball (12-12, 6-5 MAC) defeated Eastern Michigan (6-18, 3-8 MAC) 102-97 at Alumni Arena Tuesday night, UB’s highest-scoring game in conference play this season.
UB’s found itself in a number of high-scoring affairs this season, and EMU’s 97 points is the most the Bulls have allowed in any game during the 2022-23 campaign.
“We prepped for the chaos,” senior forward LaQuill Hardnett said. “This felt like a regular game to me.”
Hardnett finished the game with 21 points, matching junior forward Isaiah Adams for the team high. On Sunday, Hardnett scored 27 in UB’s 85-76 win over Western Michigan (6-18, 2-9 MAC).
Sophomore guard Curtis Jones scored 30 in the Bulls’ last game, but got off to a slow start against EMU. He went into the break with just 3 points on 1-of-7 shooting. Jones had a down night on offense, along with some foul trouble in the second half, but still put up 13 points. He was one of six Bulls to finish the night with double figures.
All eyes were on Eastern Michigan sophomore wing Emoni Bates. The former five-star recruit from Ypsilanti, Michigan took the court to loud boos from the UB crowd. Bates — who played at Memphis under head coach and former NBA All-Star Penny Hardaway last season — got off to a slow start, going 16 minutes without a field goal. Bates managed to turn that lackluster performance around in the last four minutes of the first half, scoring 12 points that helped the Eagles take a 48-44 lead at halftime. Bates finished his night with 27 points on 8-17 shooting from the field.
“What made him difficult was just being able to make tough shots,” Adams, who was tasked with guarding the Eagles’ top scorer, said about Bates. “I just tried to make it hard for him all night, and I think I did.”
UB exploded with 58 points in the second half, led by Adams who had 14 in the frame along with 3 three-pointers in the first eight minutes. Head coach Jim Whitesell praised the forward’s ball security during the post-game press conference.
Adams also got help from his fellow teammate, Hardnett who scored 21 points and grabbed 7 rebounds. Whitesell praised everything about Hardnett’s game against the Eagles, except the technical foul he received following a slam dunk.
“These two [Adams and Hardnett] played really well,” Whitesell said. “His holding on the rim I wasn’t happy about, but I thought he played outstanding.”
EMU sophomore guard Tyson Acuff racked up a game-high 35 points, but the Eagles stay at 10th in the MAC with the loss. UB improved to fifth with their second straight win Tuesday.
“I feel good,” Whitesell said in a response to a question about the upcoming conference playoffs in March. “I want to take every game one-by-one. You know, we got a big game Friday [and] I want to keep going north with our guys.”
The Bulls return to Alumni Arena on Friday, Feb. 10 to attempt to avenge their 74-68 Jan. 27 loss to Kent State (19-5, 9-2 MAC). The game begins at 6 p.m. and can be watched on ESPN3.
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