The Buffalo Bulls were leading 40-38 at the end of the first half over the Arizona Wildcats and head coach Nate Oats was not happy. Why? Because his No. 13 seeded team had nine turnovers. Furthermore, many of them were unforced errors. Turns out, Oats had plenty of reason to be upset as he knows the potential of his team more than anybody else. The Bulls outscored the Wildcats by 19 points in the second half to win 89-68.
For the first time ever, the Bulls are headed to the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament. Meanwhile, the Wildcats might be a program in transition. Which is an interesting concept since they couldn’t contain the Bulls’ free flowing offense at all. The Bulls ran right past the Wildcats with an assortment of crossovers, straight line drives and outlet passes. Oh yeah, the Bulls also hit the Wildcats with a barrage of 3-point shooting.
They connected on 15 of 30 shots from 3-point range in the win. Overall, the Bulls shot 34 of 62 from the field. They only made 6 of 7 free throws. One reason for the low foul shot count was due to their ability to leave the Arizona defense at least three feet away most times. That’s right, the Wildcats weren’t even quick enough to foul.
Wes Clark led four players in double figures. He may have scored more than his normal average, but the Bulls are used to sharing the ball. Clark came into the game averaging 14.6 points per game. He dropped 25 scintillating points and a dazzling 7 assists to create craters in the Arizona defense. Moreover, Clark made 10 of 14 shot attempts, including 3 of 5 from 3-point range. Jeremy Harris, the third leading scorer poured in 23 points and 7 rebounds as the opposing big men struggled to guard him on the perimeter. Early in the game, Harris hit DeAndre Ayton with a nasty crossover, proving that size doesn’t alway matter. The move represented what was to come over the next 35 minutes of action.
On this day, C.J. Massinburg scored 19 points on 6 of 11 shooting. During the media session, Rawle Alkins was asked about the prospects of containing Massingburg. For a moment, he seemed to not know who Massinburg was. Well, the entire Wildcats’ program got a nice look at the shooting guard / leading rebounder on Thursday night. Even though he surpassed his regular season average, Massinburg seemed to be an afterthought in the game. He smoothly led the Bulls with five made 3-pointers.
Meanwhile, Nick Perkins struggled to find his shot early. Yet, he finished with 13 points off the bench. He made 3 of 6 shots from 3-point range, and got especially hot in the second half.
This was the Bulls first win over a Power 5 team. During the regular season, Buffalo found a way to lose games at the end. This time, when the game was on the line the Bulls stormed the Wildcats to build a 25-point lead.
The Wildcats had three players reach double figures. The two centers accounted for 30 points an 17 rebounds. Allonzo Trier added 10 points for the Wildcats However, they had no help from the perimeter. The Wildcats shot 2 of 18 from 3-point range.
In the end, the upset wasn’t stunning. The way the upset materialized may have been. Now, the Bulls are one win away from a Sweet 16 appearance. They will face the No. 5 seed Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday.