by Bob Gaughan, Buffalo Sports Page
The 14th-ranked UB Bulls basketball team is now 10-0 following Saturday’s 73-65 win over Southern Illinois. This week, they play at Syracuse on Tuesday. Bob Gaughn, UB’s radio color analyst, takes a look at the win a previews the big game in the Carrier Dome.
UB 73 Southern Illinois 65
UB’s biggest regular season week in school history started with a win at home against a feisty Southern Illinois team. The Bulls won a weird game 73-65. The game was weird because the Bulls seemed to be in control the whole way but the Salukis hung around to make it close in the end. The Bulls improved to 10-0 on the season.
UB went on a 17-0 run in the first half to open up a 25-8 lead. At that point most of the almost sellout crowd at Alumni arena thought it would be an easy day, Southern Illinois went to a 2-3 zone and was able to trim the lead to 33-28 at halftime. This was concerning because on Tuesday the Bulls will face the king of the 2-3 zone in Syracuse. The zone shocked UB but players and coaches afterward said they thought it did help them prepare for Syracuse.
The second half started with the Bulls going on another run. Nick Perkins was a beast on the day scoring 20 points and 11 rebounds to help the Bulls build a 59-39 lead with 10 minutes to play. Southern Illinois didn’t go away and climbed back into to cut the lead to single digits late. Sean Lloyd led the Salukis with 14 points.
Defensively the star for UB was Davonta Jordan. His lower body quickness allows him to slide in front of opposing guards and take a charge as they drive to the basket. The Bulls caused eight charging fouls on Southern Illinois, the majority coming from Jordan. One major difference in the game was turnovers. With the help of the charges the Bulls caused 23 turnovers. UB committed only 10 of their own. You will win the majority of games when you are a plus 13 in turnover ratio. One area of concern for Tuesday night was that the Bulls were only 7 of 30 from 3-point range. The Bulls will need to shoot well from three against the Orange.
The 10-0 start for UB is their best start of the season since the 1930-31 team went 15-0 for the season.
Old Dominion 68 Syracuse 62
Coach Nate Oats was disappointed that Syracuse lost to the Monarchs Saturday. Two reasons: first beating them on Tuesday will not look as good and second they will in his eyes play a lot harder to avoid a second non-conference loss at home. UB will be looking to beat the Orange for the first time since 1963. Last year Syracuse won a close game 81-74.
Syracuse blew a 10-point halftime lead to Old Dominion. BJ Stith scored all of his 18 points in the second half to rally the Monarchs to victory. The problem Syracuse is having is on offense. The Orange shot only 33 percent from the field for the day. Syracuse point guard Frank Howard hasn’t been himself since coming back from injury. His struggles on offense have contributed to the Orange failure on the offensive end. Tyus Battle is a first class player who led the team with 23 points. Syracuse came into this game ranked 25th in the nation but will surely be unranked when the Bulls face them on Tuesday.
Friday Night Vs #21 Marquette
Marquette is currently 8-2 and ranked 21st in the country. They play North Dakota on Tuesday night before hosting the Bulls on Friday. Markus Howard, who had 27 points in their last win over a tough Wisconsin team, leads Marquette in scoring. The Golden Eagles also have two brothers that are very good. Joey and Sam Hauser are two other members of a very deep team. Marquette will play nine guys double-digit minutes on most nights.
Steve Wojciehowski is in his 5th year. The team has won 13,20,19 and 21 games in his first four years. They were picked second in the Big East at the beginning of the year.
Marquette wins what can be described as ugly games. Marquette is known for their defense. This will be a very difficult test for the Bulls.
If the Bulls win both of these games then they will be most likely a top 10 team to start the beginning of the year. If they split these two games then they will most likely have a great chance to be an at-large team in the tournament in March, in case they lose the MAC tournament. This is why this is the biggest week regular season-wise in the history of UB basketball.