Maybe the University at Buffalo should play all its games at 10 p.m.
The Bulls treated a raucous crowd of 5,797 at Alumni Arena to an 80-55 victory over Kent State Friday night.
Kent State, leading the East Division of the Mid-American Conference, walked into a buzz saw.
The Bulls fed off the energy of one of the best student crowds in UB history and needed only 15 minutes to turn the game into a rout. UB led, 45-25, at halftime and 59-30 with 15 minutes left.
There were 2,492 students in the house, virtually all wearing black. It was the largest UB crowd in four seasons.
The result improved the Bulls to 14-6 overall and 5-3 in the MAC East. That will be tied for third in the East after Saturday’s games. Kent State, still first place, fell to 15-6 and 6-2.
“It was a great game to be a part of, just the energy, the crowd, the atmosphere, the way we played defensively,” said UB coach Bobby Hurley. “I hope I continue to coach games with that type of turnout. It was an amazing thing to be a part of.”
Senior forward Xavier Ford led the Bulls with a career-high 25 points. He had four rim-rattling dunks, three three-pointers and shot 9 of 14 from the field. Forward Justin Moss had 13 points for UB and guard Shannon Evans had 12.
“For me, the night was about Xavier Ford,” Hurley said. “He was a star out there. The stuff he was doing, hitting threes, the put-backs, getting out in the open court. He really ignited everything we did tonight.”
UB’s defense was sensational, creating repeated fast-break baskets. UB had outscored Kent State in points off turnovers, 25-8.
But the game was more about emotion than tactics. The atmosphere was electric for the game televised nationally on ESPNU. Both stands on the ends of the court were filled with students. They waved oversized, cut-out, “head signs” of Rex Ryan, Abe Lincoln, Ron Burgundy, Bobby Hurley, Will Smith, Macaulay Culkin and Woody from the movie "Toy Story."
“It snowballed on us,” said Kent State coach Rob Senderoff. “Transition, turnovers for layups and dunks, defensive rebounds for breakaways, like 4-on-1s and 3-on-2s and 5-on-2s, so that’s how you score that many points. For us, 80 isn’t a number we can reach very often. We need to hold teams to much lower than that to be successful.”
UB shot 48.4 percent from the field and forced 14 turnovers. Kent State shot 34 percent.
On the crowd’s impact, Hurley said: “I felt like they at times appeared to mishandle the basketball. When we went on a run, it got very loud in there, and it’s always tough to play in that type of environment.”
UB improved to 8-0 at home this year and has won 22 of its last 23 games at Alumni Arena. UB is averaging 80.7 ppg at home and has won its eight home games by an average of 14.5 points a game.
UB outscored the Golden Flashes, 26-10, over the last nine minutes of the first half. Among the highlights: A reverse jam by Ford off a Lamonte Bearden pass, an alley-oop layup by Evans, a fast-break jam by Ford, a spinning scoop shot by Bearden and another Bearden-to-Ford slam dunk play.
Ford, averaging 9 ppg, made his second straight start, taking the spot of Will Regan. He also had nine rebounds. Ford has scored in double figures in four of the last five games.
“We’re a whole different team when we get out and run,” Ford said. “We obviously can do things in the half-court set, but we’re much more exciting and better because we’ve got guards like Shannon Evans and Lamonte Bearden pushing it and making it easy for us.”
Kent State had won six straight and held the opposition to fewer than 60 points in all six.
UB’s next game is Wednesday at Ball State.