BUFFALO, NY – Byron Mulkey last started for the Bulls on March 12, 2008. The senior point guard made up for lost time in the season opener, racking up 16 points, seven rebounds, 10 assists and seven steals in Buffalo's 88-46 win over Navy at Alumni Arena on Saturday afternoon.
Mulkey's career-high seven steals highlighted a defensive effort that held the Midshipmen to 46 points on 26.3 percent shooting, forced 25 turnovers and had 15 steals and 11 blocked shots.
There were a lot of questions surrounding the Bulls heading into the 2010-11 season, including who would step up to replace the six seniors and five leading scorers from a season ago? Those questions may have been answered on Saturday as several Bulls stepped up and had career games.
However, the biggest surprise may have been the play of freshman Javon McCrea. The 6-6 forward had 14 points on 6-for-6 shooting, 10 rebounds, four blocked shots and three steals in only 13 minutes of action.
McCrea and Mulkey became the first UB duo to record a double-double in the same game since Yassin Idbihi and Parnell Smith accomplished the feat against Ohio on March 4, 2007.
The Bulls jumped out to an 11-2 lead and never looked back. A Filzen three-pointer put the Bulls ahead, 37-12, with 1:52 left in the first half. UB took a 42-16 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Navy (0-2) got no closer than 23 points in the second half as the Bulls kept pouring it on. The 42-point final margin was the Bulls' largest lead of the afternoon. It was Buffalo's biggest season-opening win since the Bulls returned to Division I for the 1991-92 season.
The Bulls dominated the paint, outrebounding the Midshipmen, 56-31. UB outscored Navy, 40-16, in the paint and had 16 second-chance points.
"I thought we had good energy on defense," head coach Reggie Witherspoon said. "After we got our initial jitters out I thought we eventually settled down. We were anxious and in your mind you've been waiting four or five months for this. I thought the shots we took were good shots and eventually those shots are going to go in."
Buffalo will next play at Youngstown State on Tuesday night.