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Loss a reality check for UB

It's been quite a while since the University at Buffalo men's team had to rebound from a loss. About five weeks as a matter of fact.

But there's little cause for doom and gloom around the Bulls even after Sunday's 53-51 loss at Ball State which ended the team's nine-game winning streak.

"It definitely was a disappointment," junior guard John Boyer said. "But it was more of a reality check for us that we need to get back to work."

How they react to the reality check will be showcased Wednesday when the Bulls host Bowling Green at 7 p.m. in Alumni Arena.
Both teams are coming off losses that ended prolonged win streaks. The Bulls (17-6, 9-2 Mid-American Conference) saw their nine-game stand come to an end Sunday while Bowling Green had its six-game win streak snapped with a loss to Eastern Michigan.
Bowling Green (14-10, 7-4 MAC) earned the win, 86-82, when the teams played in Ohio earlier this season. In that game, the Falcons shot 53.4 percent from the field.

Buffalo's defense has gotten stingier as the season progressed, and its rebounding has been a point of emphasis.

The Bulls are the best rebounding team in the MAC, pulling down 37.6 a game while having the best rebounding margin in the conference with an average of 5.2 more boards a game than their opponents.

Sunday's loss saw a reversal of that trend as the Bulls were outrebounded by Ball State, 36-33 -- the first time that's happened in eight games.

"We have to rebound and we're in a situation where teams know we're the best rebounding team in the MAC and they game-plan for that," UB coach Reggie Witherspoon said. "It's mostly effort. You can be out of position and still hustle and work hard to get the rebound."

And getting rebounds and playing good defense needs to lead to more offense for the Bulls.

In four of their last five games, the Bulls have scored only in the 50s. That's not bad considering their defense has been the core of their season. But Buffalo is capable of scoring more points and heading toward tournament time, needs to take advantage of that.

"We need to score off our defense," Witherspoon said. "We need to get out and run and use our defense to run but we have to run with a purpose. There are times when we're anxious and there have been times when we missed good shots. We have some high scoring games, so it's correctable. We just need to run, not rush our shots and hit those good shots that we do get."

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>Mr. 200

Joe Mihalich earned his 200th career win Saturday when the Niagara men defeated Fairfield, 83-76, on ESPN2.

Mihalich, hired in 1998, is 200-129 at Niagara, the only head coaching job on his resume. He is one of six active coaches who have 200 wins and a .600 winning percentage while coaching at just one school. He joins Jim Boeheim (Syracuse), Tom Izzo (Michigan State), Phil Martelli (Saint Joseph's), Mark Few (Gonzaga) and Bill Stansbury (Mississippi State) on that list. day.

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>This week's games:

Buffalo men: After hosting Bowling Green at 7 p.m., UB will travel to Vermont on Saturday for a BracketBuster game at 1 p.m.
Buffalo women: Look to end four-game losing streak at Ohio Saturday at 2 p.m.
Canisius men: Play at Bowling Green at 2 p.m. Saturday in a BracketBuster game.
Canisius women: Return home for MAAC games against Loyola (7 p.m., Friday) and Iona (2 p.m., Sunday).
Niagara men: Take their seven-game win streak to Rider on Wednesday (7 p.m.) then host Illinois State at 7 p.m. Friday in BracketBuster game.
Niagara women: Still looking for their first conference win, the Purple Eagles host Iona (2 p.m., Friday) and Loyola (2 p.m., Sunday) in the Gallagher Center.
St. Bonaventure men: Winners of two of their last three games, the Bonnies travel to George Washington Thursday (9 p.m.) and Temple on Sunday at 2 p.m.
St. Bonaventure women: After putting their four-game win streak on the line Wednesday against Duquesne (7 p.m.), the Bonnies travel to George Washington Saturday at 2 p.m.

e-mail: amoritz@buffnews.com

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