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Bulls do themselves in Turnovers, missed foul shots deadly

Combine missed free throws and turnovers and you have a formula for failure. The University at Buffalo's men's basketball team found that out the hard way Thursday night.

Delaware State put on an offensive clinic for 1,799 at Alumni Arena, missing just three shots in the second half and hitting an impressive 63 percent from the field for the game.

The Bulls, meanwhile, played poorly and earned their 65-62 loss.

Buffalo (7-5) committed 24 turnovers thanks in large part to a quick, aggressive trapping Hornets defense, though the Bulls were careless enough with the ball all by themselves.

Delaware State turned those turnovers into 26 points, snapped a four-game losing streak and earned its first road win of the season.

"One of the main keys to the game was to give them different looks defensively," said Hornets guard Jahsha Bluntt, who had a game-high 24 points. "We couldn't let them settle into a half-court set because they have a lot of weapons that can hurt us. We needed to keep them off their rhythm and they struggled in the first half."

UB coach Reggie Witherspoon credits Delaware State for playing a good game, but sees the impact of its defense a bit differently.

"We practiced against seven guys. We practiced against that trap," Witherspoon said. "Take nothing from them, they shot the ball well but I'm not going to say their defense caused us to turn it over. We dropped the ball. And their defense didn't force us to miss free throws. They didn't play good free throw defense."

Buffalo's free throw shooting was poor, to say the least.

The Bulls hit just 23 of their 37 attempts for 62 percent.

"I think it was ourselves," said UB's Parnell Smith, who had a team-high 19 points. "We practiced for it, but we were in a different world. Ultimately, we let them change the way that we play."

Trailing, 25-19, at halftime, the Bulls were flat to start the second half and found themselves down, 42-25, with 13:47 left.

The Bulls battled back, creating some turnovers in the backcourt and scoring in transition, but again they could not hit their free throws consistently.

UB cut its deficit to 61-59 with 29 seconds left but Delaware State hit all four foul shots to close the game.

"We didn't do anything well," Witherspoon said. "I don't think there's anything I can say we did a good job at. You can say we didn't give up but that's not commendable, that's a requirement."

The Bulls were still without the services of center Yassin Idbihi, who missed his second straight game with an elbow injury. His availability for Saturday's 2 p.m. home game with Siena remains questionable.

Delaware State improved to 3-8. The defending Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champions play what is rated as the second-toughest schedule in the country.

e-mail: amoritz@buffnews.com

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