The University at Buffalo pulled out an eye-popping display, complete with bells, whistles and good shooting while cutting down on those annoying turnovers.
The Bulls rebounded from an embarrassing loss on Wednesday against Kent State by shooting 52 percent and committing only four turnovers in the second half of their 68-51 victory Sunday over Miami (Ohio) in front of 3,028 at Alumni Arena.
A loss would have been demoralizing for the Bulls' hopes of contending in the Mid-American Conference. They were already 0-2 after an overtime loss at Bowling Green and a season-high 26 turnover game in a 69-56 loss to Kent State last week. With road games at Ohio University and league-favorite Akron this week, the Bulls were potentially looking at an 0-5 record to start conference play.
"We came in thinking we have to use this day to get better," said UB coach Reggie Witherspoon. "We felt if we did that, the other things would take care of themselves. We talked a lot about locking in defensively and seeing where that would take us."
On Sunday, that mentality cleared the lane to victory for UB (9-7, 1-2). Miami (5-10, 1-2) shot just 39 percent for the game, connecting on just 18 field goals. The Bulls held RedHawks leading scorer Nathan Peavy to eight points, well under his 14.7 per game average, and 3 of 9 shooting. The Bulls also forced Miami into 19 turnovers.
"When you beat a team like this, you kind of run them out of town, and I can't wait until that bus pulls out," said Miami coach Charlie Coles. "I'll be the first one on it. If the other guys want to stay, they can stay. The way they attacked us, I'm getting out of here."
Coles probably wouldn't mind if UB's Yassin Idbihi tagged along. The 6-foot-10 senior scored a game-high 23 points and grabbed seven rebounds in 35 minutes, his most productive game since he missed three games last month with an elbow injury.
"Idbihi proved to us that we have to go back home and regroup and hope there's a big snow storm before he comes to Miami," Coles said. "He put it on us."
So did sophomore point guard Eric Moore with 16 points and just one turnover in 36 minutes. In the Kent State loss, Moore was 2 of 15 for seven points. Since his 35-point (with 11 three-pointers) outburst against Bowling Green, Moore noticed opponents are playing him differently by hedging and sending two defenders at him so he's had to adjust.
"A lot of my stuff against Kent State was forced and I relied on my three too much that game," said Moore, who gave UB its biggest lead at 65-47 on a three-pointer with 4:02 left. "I'm starting to use my mid-range game better as the season goes along. After the Bowling Green performance, teams aren't going to let me get a lot of shots from three."
UB senior Darwin Young had a grand total of four points all season but scored five during a 12-minute stretch on Sunday. . . . Former coach UB coach Leo Richardson, who led the Bulls from 1973-78, sat courtside for Sunday's game. Witherspoon once served as Richardson's ball boy. . . . Freshman John Boyer sat out the game with mononucleosis, but is expected to play in UB's next game at Ohio on Thursday. . . . Senior Parnell Smith came off the bench to collect 10 rebounds.