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Thrown away: Mistakes cost UB men again

About the only thing loosely recognizable about the University at Buffalo these days is the uniforms. Nothing inside seems the same.

UB delivered another mistake-driven performance Wednesday, dropping its third consecutive men's basketball game, 78-62, to Toledo.

The 2,151 inside Alumni Arena emptied out well before it was over with a few boos and plenty of jeers for a team that committed a school-record 32 turnovers and shot 57.7 percent from the free-throw line.

The Bulls had showed some promise in road losses at Ohio University and Akron, and considering they were playing at home for the first time in 10 days, UB figured to be rejuvenated. Instead, the Bulls (9-10, 1-5 Mid-American Conference) fell south of .500 for the first time this season and have dropped eight of their last 11 games.

But with 11 games remaining, UB coach Reggie Witherspoon isn't concerned about his young team losing confidence. At least not yet.

"[The players] handle the roller-coaster ride a whole lot better than the coaches do," he said. "They'll probably sleep tonight, and I probably won't."

If the players did sleep, it was likely uneasy. The Bulls are tied for last place in the East Division and join Northern Illinois and Bowling Green as the only teams in the conference with one league win. And that's with an upcoming road trip to Eastern Michigan (2-4) and Western Michigan (4-2).

"It's definitely not the way we wanted to start this road trip," said senior Yassin Idbihi, who finished with 14 points and a game-high 12 boards. "We talked about this game a lot, and we wanted to come out with energy, but we couldn't match our energy with their defensive energy. We have to find a way to correct this. We can't continue to play the season like this."

This is the turnovers that have plagued the Bulls all season. They went into Wednesday averaging 19.9 a game, and aside from the loss to Pittsburgh on Dec. 9, the Bulls have reached double-digit turnovers in every game.

Wednesday was the worst of the bunch. In the first half, there was a stretch in which Toledo (10-8, 6-0) easily carved into what was once a 10-point UB lead because the Bulls were turning over the ball at an alarming rate. UB committed 13 turnovers out of 21 possessions.

"Their aggressiveness caused us to be hesitant," Witherspoon said. "Even when they didn't force turnovers, we were trying to survive with the basketball."

All UB nine players who entered the game committed at least two turnovers with the exception of starter Andy Robinson, who played 33 minutes and tossed the ball away just once. But point guard Eric Moore had seven and Greg Gamble had six.

Still, the Bulls hung around, trailing, 47-45, with 10:53 left when Toledo went on a 17-5 run punctuated by a conventional three-point play by Florentino Valencia, who finished with 18 points while connecting on 10 of 11 free throws. Meanwhile, the Bulls, who didn't attempt a free throw in the first half, made just 15 of 26 in the final 20 minutes.

Robinson led the Bulls with 15 points, and freshman Max Boudreau, making his second start of the season, had 11 points and six rebounds.


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