Live by the three, die by the three, and Thursday night in Boise, Idaho at Taco Bell Arena, the Buffalo Bulls lived by the three and lived well as they upset the #4-seed Arizona Wildcats 89-68 in opening round play of the south regional of the NCAA Tournament.
For the game, the Bulls finished 50% from long distance, compared to just 11% from Arizona. But while long distance performance was important, it doesn’t tell the whole story. Unlike many Mid-American Conference teams that came before them, the Bulls were far from rattled and never seemed overmatched. Arizona’s largest lead? One point.
Many felt the Bulls would be overmatched by the Wildcats athleticism and talent. That didn’t bear out, as the Bulls performance statistically was outstanding. They outrebounded the Wildcats, shot better from the field and from three, and only had one more turnover. Simply put, the Bulls dominated from start to finish.
Arizona’s superstar Deandre Ayton was held largely in check by the Bulls, finishing with 14 points and 13 rebounds. Four Bulls finished in double figures with Wes Clark scoring 25, Jeremy Harris dumping in 23, CJ Massinburg scoring 19, and Nick Perkins scoring 13.
At halftime it appeared an upset was indeed possible as the Bulls held a 40-38 advantage, and the Bulls turned it up from there, leading by as much as 19 with just under five minutes remaining and stretching the margin to 21 by the time the game was over.
For their efforts, the Bulls will face the Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday in Boise in second round action with a Sweet Sixteen berth on the line. Sure, your bracket is probably busted like most everyone else’s but there’s MACtion now in the round of 32 and there’s nothing wrong with that.