Thrive and Advance - UB Makes History with Epic Upset

Bulls down Arizona Wildcats to earn first Tournament win

March 16, 2018 - 2:49 am

BOISE (WBEN) - Head Coach Nate Oats pretty much said what every Western New Yorker thought after UB earned their first NCAA Tournament victory.

"I felt like we had a shot," Oats began. "I didn't think we were going to win it like that."

89-68. A 21-point blowout.

According to ESPN, 18 percent of brackets filled out on its site had Arizona in the Final Four. Instead, the Wildcats lasted just a couple of hours.

This game was not a buzzer-beating squeaker. The Bulls controlled, and at times, dominated the supposedly much superior four-seed - a team that may possess the next number-one pick in the NBA Draft in Deandre Ayton.

UB worked their game plan to perfection on both sides of the ball. Knowing they were significantly outsized, the Bulls collapsed on Arizona's big men, including Ayton, and forced the Wildcats to take shots from the perimeter. On offense, the Bulls used their speed to drive the lane for shots but also kicked out to find wide-open shooters. Simply put, UB's shooters came to shoot (15 for 30 from beyond the arc) and Arizona's did not (2 for 18).

Incredibly, despite giving up a lot of size in the post, the Bulls out-rebounded Arizona 32-31. In fact, many believed Ayton would be the deciding factor in an Arizona victory. With someone of his size and talent, the question became, 'How will they stop him." And while they didn't stop him completely, he still registered a double-double, the Bulls contained him. Of course, he was going to get his rebounds (13) and points (14). But Buffalo did not allow him to take over the game like many predicted he would.

Before going into Thursday's game, Oats said that in order to win, his team would have to execute shots and take advantage of opportunities. As a team, the Bulls shot 55 percent from the field and showed tremendous scoring depth. Wes Clark scored 25 points, Jeremy Harris added 23 and CJ Massinburg had 19 for a Buffalo team that seemed to do no wrong in the second half.

According to Clark, the whole team was focused and felt that they could play with the highly touted athletes from Arizona.

"With us being a MAC, it's easy to look at us as a team that can't compete with a high-major, a team that has four NBA prospects," Clark said. "We know deep down from looking at the film and getting our confidence right that we could play with those guys. We came and played hard."

Now, a different Wildcat looms - fifth-seeded Kentucky. One of the bluest of bloods in college basketball.

While these Wildcats will still be heavy favorites, some advanced metrics project that Buffalo has a one-in-four chance of winning, they are still beatable. Kentucky downed Davidson on Thursday by a score of 78-73. Hardly an easy victory, but as they say this time of year: "survive and advance."

The game is scheduled for a 5:15 tip-off, and the winner will get the opportunity to play in the Sweet Sixteen.

AUDIO: Nate Oats on Ferrall on the Bench



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