ATHENS, OH (WKBW-UB Release) The University at Buffalo men's basketball team won its third straight game on Wednesday night, defeating the Ohio Bobcats in Athens, 69-64. The victory improves UB's record to 17-8 and 11-4 in the MAC. The Bulls have opened up a two-game lead in the MAC East with three regular season games to play.
The Bulls brought some serious energy into the road affair and it was evident in the first half as the Bulls opened up a 42-27 halftime lead. The Bulls led by 10 points early in the contest, but an 8-0 run from the Bobcats put them back within 16-14 with 12:05 to play. Ohio had held two-point leads early in the contest, its only two leads of the night. The Bulls led by four at 22-18 when they went on a 7-0 run to take a 29-18 lead with 7:20 left in the first half. Ohio pulled back within 33-26, but the Bulls went on a 9-1 run over the final four minutes of the half, capped off on a Joshua Freelove three pointer as the buzzer sounded, which gave the Bulls a 42-27 lead into the half.
UB extended its lead to as many as 17, 48-31, just three and a half minutes into the half, but the Bobcats made a run, scoring 12 straight points and pulling within, 48-43. Ohio pulled within two at 52-50 with 10:13 left, but a pair of free throws from Will Regan put the Bulls back up by six with 8:56 left. While the Bulls remained on top, Ohio crept back to within one, 65-64 with 1:10 left. However, senior Javon McCrea went to the free throw line with 39 seconds left, and despite struggling from the line, sank two free throws to give UB a 67-64 lead. The Bobcats had one last chance, getting two good looks at three, but they couldn't convert and freshman Shannon Evans hit a pair of free throws with one second left to clinch the win.
"We knew this was going to be a difficult game because Ohio is a very good team, especially at home," said head coach Bobby Hurley. "We were able to build a 15-point lead and we got after our guys in the locker room to stay focused. Knowing how well coached they are, we knew they would make a run, and we were able to withstand it and come out with a very good win."
The Bulls placed four players in double figures, led by 15 points and seven rebounds from McCrea. Freelove finished with 14 points, 12 of those coming in the first half. Senior Jarod Oldham had 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting, adding four rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Regan completed the double figure scorers with 10 points. Evans had eight points, five rebounds, three assists, two blocks and four steals off the bench. Junior Xavier Ford had five points and five rebounds, while sophomore Justin Moss had two points and six rebounds.
Ohio dropped to 19-9 on the season and 9-6 in the MAC as Nick Kellogg led all scorers with 18 points. Jon Smith added 11 for the Bobcats.
The Bulls forced Ohio into 14 turnovers, 11 of those coming via the steal. UB was able to turn those turnovers into 26 points.
With the win, UB has now won 17 games for the eighth time in the last 11 years. The victory also snaps a seven-game losing streak to Ohio, dating back to 2011.