BUFFALO, NY - The University at Buffalo men's basketball team put forth its best defensive effort of the season, holding the visiting Northern Illinois Huskies to just 46 points, the lowest by a UB opponent since 2011. The 27.3% shooting performance from NIU helped lead the Bulls to a 67-46 victory in the Mid-American Conference opener for both teams. The victory was also UB's third straight, improving their record to 7-4 on the year.
The Bulls led the contest wire-to-wire as they opened the evening on a 16-0 run over the first six minutes of the game. The first six points of the night were recorded by junior Will Regan, who led all scorers with 15 points. Despite UB's big lead, the Huskies didn't allow the Bulls to pull away with it early. UB continued to lead 20-6 with 7:51 left in the half, but Northern Illinois went on an 11-2 run to pull within five at 22-17. UB held on to the lead though into the break, 24-20.
The second half displayed a different UB offense as the Bulls scored 43 second-half points, shooting 61.9% percent from the floor and 62.5% from three-point range, which started on the first possession as senior Joshua Freelove drained a triple from the corner to extend the UB lead. The Bulls ended up opening the half on a 16-7 run, extending their lead to 40-27 with 14:06 left. The Huskies never got any closer than 10. The Bulls were able to close out the game thanks to the emergence of senior Javon McCrea, who had 10 of his 14 points over the final six and a half minutes of action. The Bulls also hit their final 10 free throws down the stretch.
"I was pleased with the defensive effort on the floor tonight holding them to 27% and forcing 19 turnovers," said head coach Bobby Hurley. "I thought we got off to a great start, but we hit a bad stretch there at the end of the first half and we need to do a better job putting teams away. With that said I was impressed with the way we came out in the second half and took care of business."
Regan paced four players in double figures with 15 points and six rebounds. McCrea had another monster night all around, finishing with 14 points, eight rebounds, four assists and eight blocks. The eight blocks tie his career-high and are tied for third in school history for a single game.
The UB defensive performance continued a recent trend of not allowing 60 points in a game. Tonight marked the third straight game the Bulls have held their opponent under 60 points, the first time that has happened since the 2011-12 season. The 46 points allowed were also the fewest by a UB team since allowing 43 points to Central Michigan on February 8, 2011.
Offensively, the Bulls shot over 60% in a half for the first time since last season when they did so against Akron on March 2, 2013.
The Bulls will look to start 2-0 in conference play this Saturday afternoon as they host Eastern Michigan at 2:00 pm.