Extra points from the University at Buffalo’s 74-72 loss to Ohio University.
Key Injury: UB suffered a big loss when 6-foot-7 freshman Quate McKinzie broke his hand in the first half. He’s out indefinitely. He will be evaluated this week to determine if he needs surgery.
McKinzie was averaging 17.8 minutes a game and giving UB quality defense, rebounding and athleticism off the bench. He can defend four positions. He was averaging 5.9 points and 4.8 rebounds a game.
His absence means 6-5 sophomore Nikola Rakicevic will have to play more minutes. Rakicevic was averaging only 8 minutes and 2.1 points before Tuesday. Rakicevic isn’t as athletic as McKinzie and doesn’t have as much upside. However, he can catch, pass and shoot when his confidence is up. He gave UB 12 good minutes vs. Ohio, scoring eight points and grabbing four rebounds. He scored on a long drive to the basket in the final seconds of the first half.
Discipline: UB also was without senior center Raheem Johnson, who was suspended for disciplinary reasons. His status for Saturday’s game is uncertain. UB got quality minutes Tuesday from senior forward David Kadiri, a high-energy sub. Johnson’s value comes when UB faces a team with a big, physical center, like Akron.
Open looks: UB was 7 of 29 from three-point range in the loss. UB was averaging 22 threes a game. Maybe there were a couple forced outside shots, but the shot selection was not a problem. There were a ton of open shots, and UB didn’t hit them. UB entered the game hitting only .321 from behind the arc, 279th in the country. This underscores UB’s need to defend and rebound. Willie Conner was 2 of 9 from three. He’s hitting .333 behind the arc on the season. He should be a 37 percent outside shooter, and that’s what UB needs hit to hit.
“We had great looks,” UB coach Nate Oats said. “Willie’s one of the best shooters. He had some great looks.”
Bobcat D: Ohio entered the game first in the MAC in points allowed and first in field-goal percentage defense. It says here the Bobcats are not going to finish that high. But they are better than last year. They did a better job than last year of keeping UB from attacking the rim at will.
“We didn’t at any point have a lot going offensively,” coach Saul Phillips said. “It was slug for slug for slug. To me that’s beautiful. We couldn’t have won a game like that last year but we can now.”
Winning shot: Ohio senior Kenny Kaminski hit an 18-footer with C.J. Massinburg’s hand in his face with 1 second left. Point guard Jaaron Simmons set it up with a drive and a kick.
Said Kaminski: “Coach drew up a great one. We spread the floor out and put the ball in Jaaron’s hands and let him make a decision. If he can get by the guy get to the rim. If someone else is open, hit him, try to make a play. Jaaron found me and I hit a big shot. I popped off on the wing. The kid closed out well, it was great defense, and the ball happened to go in.”
Zebra Report: The crowd of 2,652 at Alumni Arena was irate over two calls in the final 35 seconds. Simmons drove hard from the wing against UB’s Dontay Caruthers, who nudged the Ohio point guard with the body. Simmons was a tad out of control and lost the ball out of bounds. Close call. I thought it was justifiable. Oats didn’t love it.
“The body call could have been called 50 times during the game,” Oats said.
Simmons missed both free throws, but Ohio’s Jason Carter and UB’s Massinburg simultaneously came down with the rebound. Massinburg ripped the ball out of Carter’s hands. But the whistle had blown for a jump ball. The possession arrow was in Ohio’s favor, and the Bobcats played for the last shot.
Said Oats: “In maybe a high school game or a women’s game maybe that’s a jump ball but not in a MAC game. That’s a tough, contested game to the very end. C.J. got the ball from the kid. He ripped the ball away, made a tougher play.”
It should be noted Ohio star Antonio Campbell fouled out with 7:13 left on a touch foul far from the basket that was a bad call from the perspective of press row.
Oats was not blaming the game on the officials.
“At the end of the day we did enough to hurt ourselves,” he said. “It’s not the refs that cost us the game.”
Up next: UB is home Saturday against Ball State at 2 p.m.