Buffalo had been in this position over two weeks ago on January 23rd. That game was in Muncie, Indiana against the Ball State Cardinals who at the time were 4-12 and just 1-4 in the conference. The Bulls promptly lost that game 71-68 and it has been the shocker of the season so far in conference play.
On Saturday night, Buffalo headed into Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, faced with another road game against one of the worst teams in the conference. This time the outcome was a much different story than the one previously.
The game really turned out to be the Javon McCrea show as he put up a stellar twenty-five points and twenty rebounds. The Chips had no answer for him and could not stop him on the offensive end.
McCrea's performance on the glass gave him a career high in rebounds, besting a sixteen rebound performance against Toledo last season. Saturday night's game also gave McCrea the thirtieth double-double of his career, which is a pretty amazing feat all things considered. This is also pretty outstanding:
So @JavonMcCrea averaged 22 points and 17 rebounds this week. #nottooshabby— Jon Fuller (@UBJonFuller) February 9, 2014
McCrea wasn't the only one playing out of his mind. Shannon Evans, who came into the game averaging just eight points per game, exploded for nineteen points on 5-11 shooting including a 6-8 mark from the free throw line.
For the Bulls to keep winning Evans needs to play well as it helps take some of the pressure to score off of the other Bulls. Bobby Hurley knows he'll get a standout performance from McCrea each time out, but the development of the supporting cast will be the most critical element of the rest of Buffalo's season.
With the win, Buffalo moves to 7-3 in conference play and into a tie for third place with Ohio. The Bulls couldn't afford to trip up anymore after the loss to Ball State and taking care of business tonight helped to keep themselves within reach of the leaders. These next few weeks will be the most important of the season as the Bulls take on Ohio twice and Akron once. To secure a first round bye they're going to need to knock off at least one of those teams and be sure to stay ahead of Western Michigan, their primary competition for the fourth seed.
For Central Michigan, at least it wasn't a heartbreaker of a loss this time around. The Chips kept things interesting for a little while until they let the Bulls go on a 10-2 run in the mid-second half which pretty much put the game away for good. The loss takes them to 1-9 in conference play with two road games ahead of them next week.
- Miami vs. Ohio Recap: Bobcats Down Rival Miami, 82-75
- WATCH: Ohio Forward Jon Smith's Shot-Clock Beating Dunk vs. Miami
- Toledo vs. Ball State Recap: Rockets Survive in Muncie, Top Cardinals 80-73
- Kent State vs. Eastern Michigan Recap: Eagles Soar Over Flashes 70-53
- Mid-American Conference Basketball Viewing Guide, Feb. 8, 2014: TV, Streaming, Gametime, What To Watch