Sunday, January 4, 2015

GAME RECAP: Buffalo 92 Cornell 73

Despite a season-high 23 points from senior guard Devin Cherry, the Cornell men’s basketball team fell victim to a second-half surge by Buffalo and fell, 92-73, on Saturday at Alumni Arena in Buffalo.
The loss dropped Cornell to 6-8 overall heading into the final two non-conference games of the season, both at home, on Thursday night against Howard and on Saturday against Division III Alfred State.
Cherry hit a career-high five 3-pointers for Cornell, which led by nine points late in the first half before the Bulls (9-3) began their comeback. The home team used a 17-6 run over the final 4:49 of the half to take a two-point lead into the halftime break, then outscored the Big Red 22-10 over the first 7 1/2 minutes of the second half to take charge.
Shonn Miller chipped in 20 points and a game-high 10 rebounds for Cornell, posting his third double-double in CU’s last five games. Freshman guard Wil Bathurst added a career-best eight points off the bench.
Shannon Evans nailed eight 3-pointers en route to a career-high 33 points to lead the Bulls. He was coming off his first career triple-double in a victory last Tuesday at Binghamton. Guards Rodell Wiggington and Lamonte Bearden added 14 points apiece and 6-7 forward Justin Moss added 11.
Cornell lost despite outrebounding the Bulls, 36-32. The Big Red also outrebounded Syracuse last Wednesday evening in a 61-44 Orange win at the Carrier Dome.
The Bulls shot 50.9 percent from the field, becoming the first CU opponent this season to make at least half of its attempts.
Coach Bill Courtney’s Red opens Ivy League play on Jan. 17 against Columbia, at Newman Arena.

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Seniors Devin Cherry and Shonn Miller combined for 43 points, but Buffalo's second half spurt was too much to overcome as the Bulls topped Cornell 92-73 on Saturday afternoon at Alumni Arena. The Big Red fell to 6-8, while Buffalo improved to 9-3.

Cherry posted a season-high 23 points, including a career-best five 3-pointers, and added six assists, while Miller posted 20 points and 10 rebounds for his third double-double in the last five games. He added three assists and three blocked shots in the loss. Freshman Wil Bathurst established a new high with his eight points. Cornell shot 44 percent from the floor, made 10 3-pointers and outrebounded the Bulls 36-32.

Shannon Evans torched Cornell with an explosive display, pouring in 33 points, including eight 3-pointers, and added five assists and four rebounds in the victory. Buffalo became the first team to hit 50 percent of its shots against the Big Red (.509), placing four in double figures and a fifth with nine. Lamonte Bearden and Rodell Wiggington each had 14 points and Justin Moss notched 11 points and four boards.

After Cornell tied the game on its first possession of the second half with a driving layup by Miller, but Buffalo almost immediately pulled away afterwards. By the third media timeout, Buffalo led by 19 after a 22-8 run and all but had the game in hand.

Evans scored 22 points in the second half after beating the buzzer in the first half with a 3-pointer. He hit a pair of tough 3-pointers in the span of three possessions to make it a 14-point Buffalo lead, then hit another to push it to 17. A moment later he drove the right baseline and threw down a jam to make it 19. The Big Red clawed to within 11, but couldn't get any closer in the final minutes.

The score didn't indicate how competitive the first 20 minutes were, as Cornell went toe-to-toe with Buffalo's powerful offense. Cherry made all four of his 3-point and the Big Red led by as many as nine (33-24) after Miller was fouled on a reverse layup and converted the three-point play. Evans hit two 3-pointers in the final 2:10 of the half to start heating up, and his second with four ticks left on the first half clock sent the home team into the break leading 41-39.
Cornell begins a stretch of seven of its next eight games at home at Newman Arena when the Big Red plays host to Howard on Thursday, Jan. 8 at 7 p.m.

The University at Buffalo needed a jolt 15 minutes into Saturday’s basketball game against Cornell. The Bulls were coasting along, down by seven in their last non-conference game of the regular season.
Then Shannon Evans put the electricity into Alumni Arena.
The sophomore guard got hot, scoring 11 points in the last four minutes of the first half, and he got hotter after intermission.
Evans scored a career-high 33 points to lead UB to an entertaining, 92-73 victory over the Big Red.
The win improved UB to 9-3 as it heads into Mid-American Conference play this week. The Bulls are rated 65th in the nation on the analytics site, and their only losses are at national powers Kentucky and Wisconsin and in Olean to St. Bonaventure.
The 6-foot-1 Evans is a big reason for the Bulls’ strong start. The Suffolk, Va., native is averaging 16 points, 5.4 assists and 4.2 rebounds a game.
He showed the Big Red and a crowd of 3,192 he can score from anywhere on the court, hitting 8 of 11 three-point shots.
“Early I really didn’t have a good feel for the game, so I wasn’t doing much,” said Evans, who scored all of his points over the final 24 minutes. “As the game went along, I got my feel and my teammates got me the ball in the right places.”
“Shannon was really feeling it,” said UB coach Bobby Hurley. “We tried to keep calling his number. He gave us a ton of energy in that game. He had one of the great games that I’ve seen since I’ve been here.”
Evans’ three-point shot with 3 seconds left in the half gave UB a 41-39 intermission lead.
Then in a stretch of 5:20 of the second half, Evans hit three three-pointers – two of them from 26 feet out – and drove the baseline for a forceful slam dunk that brought the crowd to its feet. That gave UB a 76-57 lead with 8:19 left.
“Shannon’s a winner and he thinks about winning first,” Hurley said. “When you do that, you end up having games like this. He got a sense that we were not at our best in the first half, and he needed to step up. He was just making plays everywhere.”
“He’s a high-energy guy, a very skilled guy, and plays with an incredible amount of confidence,” said Cornell coach Bill Courtney. “When you have that much confidence in yourself, that can go a long way. … We knew they were going to him and we still couldn’t stop him from hitting that three-point shot. Some of the three-point shots he made were absolutely incredible.”
It speaks to UB’s scoring ability that it had 92 points and needed only 11 from leading scorer Justin Moss, who played only 26 minutes due to foul trouble.
Freshman guard Lamonte Bearden had 14 points and a season-high 10 assists. Junior wingman Rodell Wigginton had 14 points. Senior forward Will Regan added nine.
UB shot 50.9 percent for the game.
“What I like so much about this team is we can beat teams in different ways, and we have a lot of good players in different aspects,” Regan said.
UB’s defense has been pretty good this season. The Bulls entered the game ranked 52nd in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency, which rates points per 100 possessions. UB has been holding foes to 39.5 percent shooting.
The Bulls’ defense wasn’t good in the first half, as it allowed Cornell to shoot 50 percent from the field. But the Bulls tightened up and held the Big Red to 37.5 percent in the second half.
Cornell (6-8) is picked for last in the Ivy League, although it already has won three times more games than last year, when it went 2-26.
UB played without shooting guard Jarryn Skeete for a third straight game. He has been nursing a sprained ankle. Hurley said Skeete has a good chance to return for the next game, Wednesday at Miami (Ohio).
Meanwhile, Hurley said freshman shooting guard Mory Diane, a Detroit product, is academically ineligible for the second semester. Diane had played briefly in four games. That leaves Hurley with nine players, plus walk-on guard Christian Pino. Hurley has been sticking with an eight-man rotation all season.
Hurley said Diane is going to get his academics in order, “and he’ll be back with us.”

AMHERST — Cornell's Devin Cherry had put up four 3-pointers and had the Big Red in good shape shortly before halftime. But the host University at Buffalo Bulls rallied late to erase a nine-point deficit with Shannon Evans hitting two key 3-pointers, including one that sent the hosts into halftime with the lead.
Evans was only getting started.
The UB sophomore guard sank eight 3-pointers and recorded 33 total points as the Bulls topped the Big Red, 92-73, in a non-conference game Saturday afternoon at Alumni Arena on the University at Buffalo's North Campus. It was the second win in a row for UB and fifth win in its last six games.  "It's not a surprise how hard Cornell came at us in the first half," said Bulls head coach Bobby Hurley. "I'm glad we were tested the way we were. It's nice to see the guys respond." The Big Red opened the scoring with Shonn Miller's layup followed by Cherry's first trey of the game. UB's Rodell Wigginton sank a 3 to put the Bulls on the scoreboard but Cherry again struck from behind the arc.  Two foul shots by the Bulls' Will Regan cut the Cornell lead to three. Wigginton followed with a big dunk and later sank two foul shots to put the hosts ahead 9-8 with 16:33 remaining in the first half. The Bulls built a five-point lead twice in the first 20 minutes but Cornell's Cherry led his team's comeback, both at the foul line and from 3-point range. Two good throws by Cherry at the line evened the score at 20 with 9:17 remaining. He then put the visitors ahead with a 3, followed by another that put the Big Red up by eight points with 7 minutes to go until halftime. "I thought in the first half we did a pretty good job guarding those guys," said Cornell head coach Bill Courtney. "They're a terrific offensive team. You look at the way they play and the things that Bobby does with them, and pieces fit really well on offense. I thought we did a decent job of guarding them.  "We made a few mistakes which allowed Evans to get going a little bit, and I thought the mistakes we made in particular at the end of the half. ... We knew they were going to him and we still couldn't stop him from getting off that three-point shot."

With 4:49 remaining and UB trailing by nine, Evans sparked his team's rally. After sinking two shots at the free throw line, he hit a 3 to cut the deficit to four points. Justin Moss cut the Cornell lead to two, with Evans following with yet another shot from behind the arc that put the Bulls into a one-point lead. With 39 seconds remaining, Cherry scored a layup that gave Cornell the lead but Evans countered with another 3-pointer that sent the Bulls into the locker room ahead, 41-39.
Not a bad start for a guy who wasn't sure he was playing good basketball. "Early, I really didn't have a good feel for the game," Evans said. "I thought I wasn't doing much. But as the game went along, I got my feel and my teammates got me the ball in the right places." Cornell opened the second half with a Miller layup which tied the game at 41 but the Bulls then went on a 9-0 run, capped by Wigginton's 3-pointer, set up by a long pass from Moss. Miller, a 6-foot-7 senior, tested the UB defense throughout the game and put down a hard dunk that cut the Bulls' lead to five with 15:43 remaining, but Moss and Evans led an 11-2 run which included two more of Evans' shots from outside the arc. Evans also got two big points by working the ball into the paint past two Big Red defenders and finishing off a dunk. He would drain two more from 3-point range before leaving the game to a standing ovation with just under two minutes remaining and UB leading by 20. His final 3 proved to be the last score by UB, with Cornell's Wil Bathurst sinking a foul shot to close out the scoring. Wigginton and Lamonte Bearden scored 14 points apiece for the Bulls, while Moss added 11 before fouling out of the game. Overall, UB was 50.9 percent from the floor, and an even 50 percent from 3-point range. Cornell held the edge in rebounds, 36 to 32. Both sides pulled down 26 total defensive rebounds. The Big Red committed a total 22 team fouls while the Bulls committed 14 throughout the game. Hurley expressed his happiness after the game that his team finished its non-conference portion of the schedule undefeated at home. "That's two years in a row for us, not losing a basketball game here," Hurley said about his team's non-conference run. "We're excited about playing in Alumni and now moving forward to our conference schedule." That part of the schedule begins next Wednesday at Miami of Ohio.

BUFFALO, NY – Sophomore Shannon Evans completed quite the week on Saturday afternoon as he scored a career-high 33 points just one game after recording a triple-double.  The career high helped lead the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York to a 92-73 win over Cornell, ending the Bulls non-conference schedule with a 9-3 record.  The 9-3 record was UB's best non-conference mark since going 10-1 in 2005-06.  UB also improved to 4-0 at home this season, the second straight year they went undefeated in non-conference at Alumni Arena.
In the first half, the Bulls were able to withstand a hot shooting Cornell team, that went 50% from the floor, including 6-for-11 from three-point range.  Despite UB's best efforts to stop each Big Red run, Cornell found itself with a 33-24 lead with just under five minutes to go in the first half, its largest lead of the game.  However, Evans began to heat up over the final five minutes as he ignited a 17-6 run over the final 4:49, give the Bulls a 41-39 lead into the break.  Evans had 11 of the 17 points, including a three from the corner just before the half ended.  He had been scoreless up until that point.
Evans and the Bulls then took over in the second half, scoring a season-high 51 points over the final 20 minutes of play.  UB went on a 22-10 run over the first seven and a half minutes of the half, getting four three pointers, including two from Evans.  Senior Will Regan and junior Rodell Wigginton also hit from long range during the run.  A baseline dunk from Evans with 8:19 remaining gave the Bulls a 76-57 lead.
Cornell was able to cut the deficit to 11 with 6:15 remaining, but Evans scored five straight, including another triple, to put the Bulls back up by 16, 81-65.  Evans capped off his night with one final three pointer with 1:53 left to give the Bulls a 92-72 lead as he finished with 33 points.
"I think we have established ourselves over the first 11 games of the season and it wasn't a surprise how hard Cornell came at us in the first half," said head coach Bobby Hurley.  "I'm glad that we were tested the way we were and it was nice to see our guys come back and respond.  The run we made late to put us up two at the half was big and obviously Shannon had a terrific game going and we just kept call his number and he gave us great energy and really had one of the great games that I have seen since I've been here."
The 33 points from Evans were the most by a UB player this season and the most since Javon McCrea had 34 points against Bowling Green last year.  Evans went 9-of-14 from the floor, including 8-of-11 from behind the arc.  The eight three pointers are tied for third most by a player in a single game.  Josh Freelove had eight three pointers in a game last year.  The Suffolk, VA native also went 7-of-8 from the free throw line and had four rebounds, five assists and a steal.
Freshman Lamonte Bearden recorded his first career double-double with 14 points and a career-high 10 assists, the second straight game that a UB player finished with 10 assists.  Bearden went 5-for-9 from the floor and 4-for-4 from the free throw line.  H also added three steals.
Wigginton picked up his third straight start and finished with 14 points, including several big dunks and two big three pointers.  Junior Justin Moss had 11 points, his sixth straight game scoring in double figures.
Regan added nine points and five rebounds, while fellow senior Xavier Ford finished with six points and six rebounds off the bench.  Junior Raheem Johnson had five points and a block.
The Bulls finished the game with a season-high 11 three-pointers as they went 11-of-22 from behind the arc.  UB tied its season-low with seven turnovers for the second straight game and committed a season-low 14 personal fouls.
Cornell dropped to 6-8 on the season as they had a pair of players with 20 points, led by 23 points from Devin Cherry and 20 points from Shonn Miller.
The Bulls will open up Mid-American Conference play now on Wednesday night at Miami (OH) with tip off set for 7:00 pm.

Shannon Evans – who recorded his first career triple-double last Tuesday - did not score a single point through the first 15:49of the Buffalo’s men’s basketball game against Cornell Saturday. With 4:11 remaining in the first half, Buffalo trailed by seven and had allowed a 13-0 Big Red run.
But in the next 24-plus minutes, Evans took the game into his own hands and crafted another career night for himself. 
“Shannon’s a winner. He thinks about winning first. He got a sense that we were not at our best in the first half and he needed to step up,” said head coach Bobby Hurley. 
The sophomore guard scored 33 points – a career best – over the final 24:11 of the game and the Bulls (9-3) recorded a 92-73 victory over Cornell Saturday afternoon at Alumni Arena in front of an announced crowd of 3,192. The game was Buffalo’s last nonconference matchup before Mid-American Conference play begins. 
“Early I really didn’t have a good feel for the game,” Evans said. “I wasn’t doing much but as the game went along I got my feel.”
Evans scored 33 points on 9-of-14 shooting. Hurley called Evans’ performance “one of the great games” he’d seen since arriving at Buffalo in 2013. Evans went 8 of 11 from beyond the arc Saturday as Buffalo shot 50 percent from 3-point range as a team. Evans’ eight 3-pointers were also a career high. 
The Bulls trailed by as many as nine points in the first half in part due to Cornell’s 13-0 first-half run. When Buffalo trailed 33-24, the Bulls went on a run of its own for a lead that would not be relinquished. 
Evans scored 11 of the Bulls’ final 17 points as Buffalo ended the first half on a 17-6 run. The Bulls ended the half with a 41-39 lead. 
After shooting just 43.3 percent from the field in the first half, Buffalo shot 59 percent second half and went on two 8-0 runs to pull away from Cornell. 
The Bulls went up 19 points – its second-largest lead of the game – after an Evans dunk with 8:19 remaining. Cornell went on its own 8-0 run pull the score within 11 with a little more than six minutes remaining, silencing the Alumni Arena crowd. Evans then scored the game’s next five points, however, to bring the Buffalo lead to 16. The Bulls led by at least 14 for the remainder of the game. 
Evans wasn’t the only Bull to have a career night, however. 
Freshman guard Lamonte Bearden recorded his first career double-double, scoring 14 points and adding 10 assists. Junior guard Rodell Wigginton also scored 14 points in his third straight game starting for junior guard Jarryn Skeete. Skeete has missed the last three games due to an ankle injury. 
Hurley said he will evaluate Skeete Sunday and there is a “good chance” Skeete will play Wednesday in Buffalo’s conference-opening matchup.
Junior forward Justin Moss scored 11 points and grabbed four rebounds before fouling out with 7:05 remaining. Senior forward Will Regan added nine points and five rebounds. 
This is the second straight season Buffalo finishes undefeated at home in the nonconference schedule. The Bulls advance to 17-1 in Alumni Arena under Hurley. The Bulls’ have nine wins this season before the starting MAC play – their highest total since the 2010-11 season.  
Buffalo finished last season 6-4 in nonconference competition and lost three games by double digits. Two of Buffalo’s three losses this season was against two of the top-10 teams in the country, including No. 1 Kentucky. Hurley said this year’s team understands his system better than last year’s squad.
“This year’s team has enough veteran players that understand the system that can we can feel we can right out of the gate and that’s probably why the record is better than it was last year,” Hurley said.
The Bulls begin MAC play Wednesday when they travel to Oxford, Ohio to face Miami Ohio (4-8). 
“There’s a little more fire going into conference play,” Evans said. “We had a good nonconference schedule, we played well, but conference is where it counts the most. If you’re going to play in the tournament, you have to play well in the conference.”
Wednesday’s tipoff is set for 7 p.m.

As New York Southern Tier opponents go, Cornell is tougher than Binghamton, but no match for UB at their best, and that's what we got today.
Kicking off 2015 immediately after the women's team opened MAC play with a loss to the Ohio Bobcats, the UB Men's Basketball team cooled Cornell down and ran away in the second half to a 92-73 victory.
One game after putting down the first triple-double in program history, Shannon Evans mixed it up, hitting a career-high 8 three-pointers on his way to 33 points. Two bombs from nearly the New York outline midway through the second half broke Cornell for good, and one a few minutes later bounced high off the rim before falling straight down.
Other than a few back-and-forth first minutes, the second half was all UB after an individual five-point run from Will Regan gave the Blue and White a 49-43 lead.
From a stats perspective, this game was won as UB refused to send Cornell to the foul line while also taking care of the ball: with 11 minutes to play, UB had only committed 3 turnovers. It was one of the faster games of the season for Buffalo, but Bobby Hurley stuck with his seven-man rotation as Jarryn Skeete remained out with an ankle injury. Cornell used 11 players and was still unable to keep up with the Bulls' fitness.
Despite that, Cornell was able to mount a serious threat early behind 6-11 three-point shooting, highlighted by 4-4 from Devin Cherry. At first frenetic, then a bit slow, the first stanza saw Cornell get high-percentage shots and spark a 13-0 run forced UB to play from behind for several tense minutes.
Buffalo, though, closed out the half with a display of their offense at its best, trading the lead late and taking a huge momentum boost into the half when Evans hit a fallaway three from just in front of the Cornell bench, putting UB up 41-39. At the break, many UB players had strong numbers, but even Evans' and Lamonte Bearden's matching lines of 11 points and 4 assists would pale in comparison to the second half barrage.
By the final buzzer, Evans had poured in a career-high 33 on a career-high 8 three-pointers, while Bearden pulled off a career high in assists and earned a points-assists double-double himself. Wigginton and Moss also hit double digits, as you'd expect from 92 team points.
The Bulls are no 9-3 and will start MAC play with two games on the road over the next week. First up? The Miami Redhawks at 7:00 PM on Wednesday.
Go Bulls!

Usually after a UB game and the instant recap piece I would write a second piece of things we learned or a few more things you might have missed, or whatever. But today I feel like it's got to be a bit different.
I'm sitting here, hours after UB completely ran away from the Cornell Big Red to close out their nonconference slate, and perhaps I'm working with a bit of recency bias, but I have to think in my ten years of following UB Basketball that there aren't more than ten single-game performances in the same conversation as Shannon Evans' this weekend.
Now, Cornell isn't a particularly good team, slightly below average at 7-9 against a middling schedule coming into this afternoon. It seemed their fans were hoping for a .500 record this year. But they're a good deal better than the atrocious Binghamton team Evans diced up on Tuesday night.
Of course, Tuesday the sophomore put down the first triple-double in program history, and there's no comparison to that. It's a little more common to see someone put up 30+ points.
Thinking aloud, though, only maybe half of the 30-point performances over the last decade are that memorable. Off the top of my head, Javon McCrea had 34 against Bowling Green and 31 against Kent State last year* and Will Regan 36 in the MAC tournament against Ball State a bit back. Rodney Pierce scored 20+ in nine straight, including 31 twice, in 09-10, and Cage had 37 in that 111-107 2OT loss at Kent State in 05-06. Eric Moore had 36 in the Martin Samarco game.
*I also remember he had 31 against Niagara, but I find it hard to count, because it's far more memorable that we lost to Niagara in that atrocious game.
I found eight more with some research, but my point here is that even something that only happens once or twice a year, on average, isn't always memorable seasons down the line. Loosely, of those I can remember, I'd put Moore, Cage, and Regan on one tier, and Pierce, McCrea, and Evans on the next.
The only name on that list who was a sophomore at the time is Moore. The only two who matched or exceeded Evans' eight threes on their nights were Moore and Regan. Throw in the triple-double, and only McCrea or Pierce at their finest can match that over multiple games.
The amazing thing, though, is that in the first half while Cornell staked out a lead on perimeter shooting, Evans wasn't really around. The sophomore didn't score until 15 minutes in the game, but his late three that gave Buffalo the lead put him at 11 points. Meanwhile, Lamonte Bearden matched him with 11 first half points and 4 assists, and would go on to a points-assists double-double.
Bearden became the fifth Bull to notch a double-double this season and has four games of six or more assists to Evans' five. UB as a team has had five double-digit scorers twice and four thrice. Three Bulls are averaging double-digits, but six are averaging seven or more points per game. With all respect to the guy, two years ago Richie Sebuharara was on scholarship for his senior year. That's a lot of new talent coming in very fast.
It's easy to be excited after a 92-point outburst and a 9-3 record against frankly a middling out of conference schedule. (After leading Kentucky and Wisconsin at the half, I think the most impressive part of the first twelve games has simply been avoiding the letdown game and not losing more than once more.) But 9-3 or better starts of any sort are rare since the return to D1; only happening in 2005-06 (11-1) and 2004-05 (9-3). Seasons in which UB has the advantage over their collective opponents in every statistical category - as they do now - are likewise rare: last year was the first time it happened.
2005-06 went south when conference play started, and we know how 2004-05 went. I haven't watched a lot of other MAC teams this year, but the guys at Hustle Belt seem generally impressed with the Bulls so far, and the Hurley name and the flashy style catch the national eye nearly every game.
To close out the best nonconference slate in nine years, the Bulls last night put together one of their most complete offensive performances of the last two. You can go back to the recap or find a box score to get specific numbers. There might be cause for concern in the short bench, but UB was still outrunning Cornell deep into the second half despite only using seven bodies. Jarryn Skeete will be back on Wednesday, and that's when things really get serious.
Evans' play over the last two games is a big deal. UB's play over the opening 12 is also a big deal. I'll have a little more of a look at the season so far in a nonconference recap in the next few days, and we'll likely do more looking back to UB teams of the last ten years as the strong start continues.
I don't want to go nuts now and make plans for March, but it seems other than a general lack of complaints, there's not a ton of excitement about what is so far the best start in ten years, led by one of the most electric players of the last ten years, and supplemented by at least four other players who would be serious contributors on any UB team over the last ten years. That seems to me a strong indicator of the upward growth of the program and fan expectations, but that's a story for another day.
After 12 consistent games, interrupted only by bona fide Final Four contenders and a fluke confluence of injuries, all I can take away is that I'm willing to let myself get more excited.

1 comment:

Matt said...

Hats off to Buffalo. Shannon Evans: biggest individual talent we face all season?