BOISE, Idaho – Wes Clark made the last game of his college basketball career a memorable one.
The University at Buffalo's senior point guard kept UB in the game against Kentucky Saturday by scoring 26 points.
It wasn't enough in the 95-75 NCAA Tournament loss. But it capped a brilliant season for the transfer from the University of Missouri.
Clark played for UB coach Nate Oats at Romulus High School, just outside of Detroit, which is why he chose to play his final season of eligibility at UB.
"I told him I'm so proud of him," Oats said. "We've got a history. I coached him in high school. But for him to come in with the one semester. He took this program to new heights. We don't do what we did this year without him on the team. I thanked the guys for welcoming him in. If there were guys who were selfish, all about themselves, they would have not welcomed him in like they did. They wanted him on the team. They wanted to win, and he showed up in a big way."
UB was reeling early in the second half, trailing by 56-43. Over the next four minutes, Clark hit a 3-pointer, a pull-up jumper, two free throws and a layup on a baseline drive. That pulled the Bulls within 60-54.
Clark averaged 15 points a game and was the most valuable player of the Mid-American Conference tournament. He's the only one of UB's top seven players who the Bulls are losing to graduation.
"It was phenomenal for me," Clark said. "I know we had a loss right now. It was definitely a win for me. I've never been to an NCAA Tournament game, and to get here and win a game, it's phenomenal. It's a great feeling. I'm glad to wear the Buffalo jersey.
NCAA payouts: The fact UB made the second round of the NCAA Tournament was great financial news for both UB and the Mid-American Conference.
Each game a team plays in the NCAA Tournament earns $1.7 million over a six-year period for its conference. So the fact UB played two games means the MAC will receive $3.276 million per year over the next six years thanks to the Bulls.
It was the first time a MAC team won a game in the tournament since 2012.
The MAC splits its NCAA payout evenly among its 12 schools. So UB and the other 11 MAC teams will get $273,000 over the next six years due to UB's two games.
The actual payout to each school is based on the rolling, six-year totals the conference has earned. So next year, UB will get about $156,000 from NCAA Tournament money.
UB's men's basketball budget was a little over $2 million last year, counting the 13 scholarships given to players on the team.
Fan favorites: UB had the overwhelming support of the sellout crowd of 14,000 in Boise's Taco Bell Arena. The fans became enamored with UB as a result of the upset of Arizona on Thursday. They were roaring with every big shot the Bulls made. The fans even cheered loudly for UB mascot Victor E. Bull during a first-half timeout.
"I want to say thank you to all the Boise fans," CJ Massinburg said. "We felt they welcomed us really well. We're pulling in for the game, they lined up out there waving at us. Boise has a lot of friendly people. It's somewhere I'll definitely come back to."