Jacksonville Jolts Buffalo in First Round of UCF Classic
ORLANDO, FL – The University at Buffalo men's
basketball ran into a hot-shooting Jacksonville team in the first
round of the UCF Holiday Classic, dropping an 83-73 decision.
Calvin Betts scored a career-high 23 points and added 11 rebounds for the Bulls, who fell to 6-4 on the season. Rodney Pierce had a game-high 26 points for the Bulls, who were outrebounded by the Dolphins, 38-35, and trailed for most of the contest.
Betts scored the game's first bucket on a three-pointer just 22 seconds into the game, but led just two other times in the game, including 10-8 on a layup by Titus Robinson, who had eight points in the game, with 15:44 remaining. The Bulls trailed 16-14 after a bucket by Dave Barnett with 12:45 remaining, but UB would go ice cold after that, failing to score a bucket for five minutes.
Jacksonville would use UB's cold spell to open up a 21-14 lead with 8:04 remaining on a pair of free throws by Aaron Hardy (16 points, eight rebounds and six assists). Buffalo finally broke through on a long three-pointer by Pierce and UB would pull to within 24-22 on a trifecta by John Boyer with 5:35 left in the half. However, Buffalo would score just one more field goal the rest of the half and went to intermission down 39-31.
The Bulls came out strong to start the second half, opening the stanza on a 9-2 run, as Betts and Pierce combined for seven of those points, to cut the lead to 41-40 with 15:48 left. UB trailed, 49-47 with 10:16 left before Jacksonville would go on a 9-0 run, capped by a trifecta by Travis Cohn, who finished with 15 points, to put the Dolphins on top 58-47 – the biggest lead of the game – with 7:46 left.
Buffalo would get as close as 67-60 but a big blocked shot in the lane by JU's Glenn Powell and a long three-pointer by Ben Smith – who finished with 23 points – with 2:45 left kept the Dolphins comfortably ahead. The Dolphins would hit 10-of-12 free throws in the final 2:30 to hold on for the 83-73 win.
Another key area in the game was the Dolphins' 17-4 advantage off the bench.
"Typically we get pretty good bench play but our energy coming off the bench tonight was not what we needed," said UB coach Reggie Witherspoon. Regarding the rebounding disparity he noted, "its very disappointing when you come into a situation like this and you get outrebounded, something we work really hard at. We finished the game with 16 offensive rebounds, but we had 10 in the first half. I just felt like we didn't compete hard enough to get them off of their game and they took advantage of us."
The Bulls will play Liberty in the consolation game at 4:30 pm on Wednesday.