So it is senior day...the last game at the Stroh for Spencer Parker, Pep Joseph and Brandon Busuttil. More later on their careers...but they have been true Falcons in an era where that was not always the easiest thing to do. Parker played for 3 coaches in his time here, Joseph for 2. We are proud of them all and thank them for being Falcons. Nothing but success to them moving forward, they are Falcons Forever.
Buffalo is the guest. I haven't seen any formal scenarios yet so I don't know where things stand for them. They are 9-8 and one game behind the four teams tied for 2nd. They are also only one game ahead of the 3 teams tied for seventh. I don't think they can finish 9th because either UT or EMU has to finish with 10 losses but with a win and the a couple losses from the team above them and they can still earn a bye.
So they have a lot to play for.
They've had an OK season, going 16-14 with a 9-8 record in the MAC. They are not playing especially well now, having lost 5 out of their last 7, including 3 home losses. They lost at home to Miami on Tuesday
They did beat BG in their first meeting in what has to be among BG's more disappointing losses. BG was up 6 with 8:45 left. BG then made 5 turnovers on the next 7 possessions--the other 2 were 2 missed FTs and a missed jumper--and all told the Bulls finished the game on a 27-7 run to win by 14...just no good. BG went 5 minutes without scoring at all and made only 2 FGs in that time.
BG actually outshot Buffalo from the field, but had 18 TOs to Buffalo's 12 and the Bulls made 25 out of 33 FTAs while BG was 8 of 15. Blake Hamilton had 25 points and 7 rebounds, while Lamonte Bearden--coming off his suspension and the bench--had 16 and 6 assists. Spencer Parker had 21 for BG and Denny had 15 points and 9 rebounds.
BG is in last place and their numbers are the numbers of a last place team. BG is 11th in offense and 10th in defense. Buffalo is 8th in the MAC in scoring but very strong on the defensive end---4th. They play the fastest tempo in the MAC...their average possession is 16 seconds. Nothing to say here but that BG has to bring a strong game on both ends of the floor.
As noted, Buffalo has just had an average offense. That comes from slightly above average shooting and doing a poor job taking care of the ball. They are however very good on the offensive boards, something BG has struggled with this season and they are 2nd in the MAC in getting to the line, though 8th in FT%. They are focused on the 2FG, where they lead the MAC. They are 6th in the MAC in trying the 3 and 10th in 3FG%, so the Bulls can be expected to attack the basket.
Flipping it around, BGs poor offense is almost a perfect match for UB's good defense. Their strongest point is defending the shot (3rd in the MAC) and shooting is BG's weakest point, so the Falcons will need to win battles there.
Individually, they are led by Blade Hamilton, who is scoring 14.2 PPG on 47% and 37% shooting to go with 7.5 rebounds a game. He's a very good player who had a great game against BG in the first matchup. LaMonte Bearden is scoring 13.7 PPG on 47% shooting and just under 5 assists per game. He is the rare PG today who doesn't shoot the 3FG very much. Willie Conner is scoring 12.6 PPG on 48% shooting. Finally, CJ Massinburg is 11.6 PPG on 44%/41% shooting.
This is a tough game for BG. They are in a very bad stretch, and their coach called them out as SELFISH. There is nothing but love to play for tomorrow and UB is playing for a lot more. This is going to be a tough assignment. Maybe Coach Huger's frustration will bear fruit. Certainly on paper it looks like a tough night, but who knows?