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  • Budd Bailey

UB's fast start doesn't hold up

By Budd Bailey

Former Canisius basketball coach Nick Macarchuk once said after watching his team battle back from an early 10-0 deficit, “A 10-0 lead is not as big as it sounds.”

Apparently the same theory applies to an 11-0 lead, as the University at Buffalo’s men’s basketball team discovered on Tuesday night.

The Bulls played a fabulous first three minutes against visiting Ball State at Alumni Arena, jumping out to that double-digit lead. They hit on three straight three-pointers along the way.

Then the roof fell in. The Cardinals needed only three minutes to erase all of that good work in tying the game at 16-16. From there the game was a bit predictable, as Ball State took control for an easy 87-59 victory before 2,007.

It was another one-sided run that decided this one, this time by the visitors. UB had a 29-28 lead with 7:26 left in the first half. Then the Cardinals did just about everything right for the next seven minutes of so, going on a 17-0 burst of their own. UB scored the last basket of the half, but there wasn’t much reason for hope at that point.

Sure enough, Ball State built the lead up slowly but surely during the course of the second half. Its biggest lead of the game was at the end, as the Bulls didn’t even score two straight baskets until 15 minutes or so were gone in the second half.

The numbers tell the story. UB shot 32.8 percent from the field, was outrebounded by a 46-27 margin, and was outscored 20-2 in points off turnovers. Even more dismaying was the way the Bulls had trouble simply inbounding the ball, let alone running the offense or taking good shots.

Individually, Sy Chatman remains UB’s principal offensive threat. He had 27 points and seven rebounds to lead the Bulls. But no one else was in double figures. If Chatman’s numbers are deleted from the count, UB was 12 for 45 from the field (26.7 percent). Ball State was led by Basheer Jihad’s 20 points, and three others reached 10 or more points.

This one might have looked like a winnable game going into the contest. Ball State was 9-9 overall but 1-5 in the MAC due to a rather soft nonconference schedule. But the Cardinals had far too much for the Bulls during the final 37 minutes, as Buffalo slipped to 2-16 overall and 1-5 in the MAC.

The Bulls opted not to have a postgame news conference, which might not have been the worst idea under the circumstances. The questions are starting to be a little redundant and depressing at this point in the long season.

Life doesn’t get much easier for UB in the near future. Five of the next six games are on the road, starting Saturday at Eastern Michigan.  

(Follow Budd on via @WDX2BB)

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