No. 14 UB fends off SIU, improves to 10-0

December 15, 2018 - 7:41 pm
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The No. 14 ranked UB Bulls improved to 10-0 on Saturday afternoon with a 73-65 win over Southern Illinois at Alumni Arena. This was the second matchup between UB and the Salukis this season; the Bulls defeated SIU 62-53 in Carbondale, Ill. on November 12th.

The first half of the game came down to two big runs, one coming from each team. UB jumped out to an early lead and looked like they were going to cruise to another victory. The Bulls went on a 17-0 run in the first half and found themselves up 29-10 through the first 12 minutes. 

SIU responded with a run of their own, they out-scored the Bulls 18-5 in the last eight minutes of the first half, cutting the UB lead to 33-28 at halftime. The Bulls shot 0-12 in the midst of the Salukis’ surge late in the first half. Much of UB’s offensive struggles in the first 20 minutes came from behind the arc. Despite not playing much zone defense so far this season, the Salukis did a good job defending the three, the Bulls made just 3 out of 21 three-point attempts in the first half (14%).

“We just got passive against [the zone] to be honest,” Bulls head coach Nate Oats said postgame. “I don’t think it was necessarily a different-type or great defense. SIU plays hard and they’re a good team but I think when we saw it, and I think it’s a problem for a lot of teams when they see a zone, their mindset changes and that’s what happened with us.”

The Bulls came out in the second half and responded fairly well. They opened the half on a 23-9 run and played some inspiring defense along the way. The Bulls defensive effort was really strong the whole game, they drew eight charges on SIU and forced 22 total turnovers. Early in the second half on back-to-back SIU possessions, UB forced a shot clock violation and then a five-second violation on an inbound play.

“Those are big plays,” Bulls guard Davonta Jordan said on forcing the SIU offensive fouls and turnovers. “Those plays take two points away from them and give us an opportunity to get two more, and that possible four-point turnaround is big when the energy is down. Those plays can get the team back up and rolling.”

The UB defense was able to provide a spark when one was needed. They were also able to thwart any comeback by the Salukis, who continued to hang around and fight the whole 40 minutes.

As great as the Bulls defense played, Nick Perkins was the star of the game; the senior forward led the Bulls with 20 points and 11 rebounds (4 offensive). Perkins also shot 3-5 from behind the arc, he was the only UB player to make more than one, three-point attempt.

Dontay Caruthers turned in a solid performance as well. In the final few minutes of the game, the senior guard from Rochester, N.Y. forced two key turnovers to help the Bulls pull away and seal a victory.

“We have a hard hat award and Dontay hasn’t won it yet this year,” Oats said. “I talked to him about it in the middle of the week and he guaranteed me he’d win it and today he came out and won it. He was diving all over the floor for loose balls and taking charges, him and Davonta [Jordan]. Guards don’t want to drive with the ball when Dontay or Davonta are on them because they’re taking a charge almost every time someone tries to blow by them.”

The Bulls next game is a highly anticipated one with what appears to be now in-state rival No. 25 Syracuse. The Orange lost at home to Old Dominion on Saturday so there is a chance they drop out of the top 25. But, Tuesday’s game at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y. will still be a huge one for UB.

Last season the Bulls almost came out of Syracuse with a win but fell short 81-74. This team has certainly gained a lot of momentum and confidence in the last year since that matchup, but the Bulls will keep the thought of last year’s loss in mind on Tuesday.

“If you were to look at where we were at 10 games in last year and where we are 10 games in this year I think we’re much better,” Nick Perkins said. “We have a bit more matured group and guys who have played in hard-fought games and tough situations, so I think it’s going to be a good game.”

Tipoff between the Bulls and the Orange on Tuesday night is scheduled for 8:00pm. The game will be televised on ESPN2 and you can listen to the full game along with pregame and postgame coverage on ESPN 1520.

 

 

 

 

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