Bulls Cruise Past Toledo in MAC Tournament First Round
BUFFALO, NY – The University at Buffalo men's basketball team cruised past Toledo, 72-54, in the opening round of the FirstEnergy Mid-American Conference Tournament at Alumni Arena on Sunday afternoon. The Bulls advance to Cleveland and will play Miami (OH) on Thursday night at 9:00 pm at Quicken Loans Arena.
The fifth-seeded Bulls (18-11) jumped out to a 7-0 lead and never looked back. A young Toledo squad, the 12th seed, hung tough early and a three-pointer by Jake Barnett cut the UB lead to 14-11 with 10:11 left in the first half. Mitchell Watt slammed home a missed jump shot and Rodney Pierce came up with a steal and a layup in the closing seconds of the first half to extend the Buffalo lead to 35-22 at the break.
The UB lead remained in double-digits for the majority of the second half. Max Boudreau scored a 14 of his season-high 18 in the second half by knocking down a bevy of mid-range jump shots. The senior forward shot 8-of-10 from the field. His jumper with 5:53 remaining put the Bulls ahead 62-39. The 23-point advantage was the Bulls' largest of the afternoon.
Jawaan Alston earned his first start of the season after Titus Robinson was held out of the starting lineup with a minor injury. The junior forward responded with a career-high 12 rebounds to go along with four points and three assists. He helped the Bulls command the rebounding edge, 39-26. The Bulls had 15 offensive rebounds and scored 16 second chance points.
The Bulls also capitalized defensively as they scored 25 points off 12 Toledo turnovers. Calvin Betts had three steals to go along with his 13 points and five rebounds.
Sean Smiley also scored 13 points, including three three-pointers.
John Boyer, the nation's leader in assist-to-turnover ratio, cushioned his lead on Sunday afternoon with eight assists to zero turnovers.
The Bulls' 18-point victory was their largest ever in a MAC Tournament game.
"I think our focus defensively, positioning wise, was pretty good," head coach Reggie Witherspon said. "I think our determination was pretty good and it led to us rebounding the ball pretty well. Our team effort and focus was better today and I'm hoping we can improve on it."
Buffalo has advanced to the quarterfinals and will play fourth-seeded Miami (OH) on Thursday night in the 9:00 pm game. The teams split the season series with each team winning on its home court.