Monday, February 03, 2014

Falcons Beat Bulls in heated day at Stroh

A little tension and  confrontation can certainly put some fire into an otherwise sleepy Sunday afternoon in early February...and that was what the Falcons got with the Buffalo Bulls and in the end, once the victory was in the bag, it was twice as satisfying.

The Bulls have a new coach, as well all know, and his name is Bobby Hurley.  Dude is 100% insufferable.  There was not one call that went against his team that he did not dispute.  Apparently, players he coaches don't travel, commit defensive fouls, 3 second violations, charge, or go over the back.  It is unthinkable.  The only just world is one in which, at the end of the game, Buffalo has 0 fouls.

He actually bullied the refs for much of the game.  They were constantly coddling him, running over to explain things to him, listening to him.  And, he just got more and more truculent.  He was, eventually, the focal point of the game.

Somewhere along the way, Javon McCrea was called for traveling, which is, of course, completely unthinkable.  There was a little back and forth between Coach Stone and McCrea and then the Buffalo coaches got involved.  Stone was really hot.  McCrea and Stone got T'd up.  There was verbal sniping...then, later, on the way to the locker room, and then after the game.

Coach Stone is feisty, but you don't see this kind of thing very often.  I never thought a Buffalo coach could make me miss Witherspoon.

In fact, Hurley played a significant role in his team's demise.  With about 4 minutes left, UB was up 66-60.  They had BG on the ropes.  BG had been playing in foul trouble the whole way and was ripe to be taken.  Had Hurley been spending more time watching the actual game and less time screaming at the refs, he might have noticed this.

Instead, he decided to take the air out of the ball.  It worked.  They did not score again until there were :17 left in the game and then not again.  From the minute he made that call, UB scored 2 more points.

Then, with 2:28 and Buffalo still up 2, McCrea was called for his 5th foul.  Hurley freaked out and finally earned himself a T...when there were 2 minutes left in a close game.  On the road.

That's some fine coachin' there.

BG made the technical free throws and then split the shots from the the rebound and earned another foul and then sunk both of these free throws for a 5-point Hurley-fueled trip down the court and BG was up 3, a lead they would not relinquish.

Statistically, BG had their third straight poor defensive game.  The difference was that BG's offense delivered.  BG scored 1.12 points per possession, which is their best D1 game this season.  BG did not shoot especially well...below their season average.  However, BG took good care of the ball while having an incredible night on the offensive boards (2nd best of the season) and getting to the FT line.  BG shot 33 FTs and made 69.7% for a +5 advantage.

Buffalo ended up scoring 1.03 points per possession, which is below their season average.  As you can see below, shooting was even and the Bulls had a slight advantage in turnovers, but BG's advantages in rebounding and free throws was decisive.

It was BG's 3rd straight game allowing more than 1 point per possession after 10 straight under 1 point per possession.  I don't know if teams are figuring something out or BG is just in a little slump, but the Falcons are not as effective on defense as they used to be.  It is the least efficient defense that has actually yielded a victory...the previous high was North Dakota.

It was a pretty gritty win for the Falcons.  Because of foul trouble, Anthony Henderson only played 20 minutes and Black only played 16.  So, not only was BG battling (most of the time from behind) against a team that has a bunch of good players and doing it with 7 scholarship players, but two of those guys were in foul trouble.

Of course, Buffalo had Hurley.

And BG had Parker, Clarke and Holmes.

Spencer Parker had a career high 23 points on 6 of 13 shooting and 10 of 14 from the line.  When Parker is productive, BG is tough to beat.  He also added 7 rebounds and had only 1 turnovers.  Also having a career night--if not a career scoring high--was Jehvon Clarke, who came within a whisper of a triple double.  He had 11 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists against 3 turnovers.  He was also steady with the ball throughout the game and provided a glue for BG when the game was tight.

Richaun Holmes had 16 points on 5 of 12 shooting to go with 10 rebounds and 5 blocked shots.

BG needed minutes from Gomez and Tisdale and got them.  While neither generated big stats, they both did their job when pressed into duty and allowed BG to complete the late comeback.

It was a very satisfying win.  For as long as Hurley stays in the MAC, I suspect he is going to be the Coach everyone loves to hate.  Hopefully, he will continue to undermine his team as he did today.  Beyond that, BG deserves credit for a gritty and gusty effort to get the win.  Things don't get easier, but this one was nice.

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