BUFFALO, NY – The University at Buffalo men's basketball team gave 16th ranked Brigham Young all it could handle, but the Cougars proved to be too tough and defeated the Bulls, 90-82, in front of 5,802 fans at Alumni Arena on Thursday night.
The Bulls did a great job defending BYU's Jimmer Fredette in the first half, holding the All-American to six points on 1-for-9 shooting. But Fredette woke up in the second half, scoring 28 points to finish with a game-high 34 points.
BYU (13-1) jumped out to a 13-3 lead and held a 25-15 advantage with 7:58 left in the first half. But back-to-back layups by Javon McCrea followed by consecutive Zach Filzen three-pointers capped a 10-0 scoring run to knot the game at 25. The Cougars responded with a 10-2 run of their own to take a 35-27 lead late in the half.
Buffalo scored the final six points of the half and trailed, 39-37, at the break.
Watt opened the second half by driving the lane and throwing down a thunderous two-handed dunk to tie the game at 39. But BYU responded with a 13-2 scoring run, nine of the points coming from Fredette, to retake a 52-41 lead with 14:11 left in the game.
But Fredette struck again, scoring seven of the Cougars' 10 straight points to put BYU ahead, 64-53. The Bulls had one more run in them and scored on five straight possessions. Filzen's fourth three-pointer of the night cut the BYU advantage to 68-65. But that would be as close as the Bulls would get as they would go on to lose by eight points.
Watt scored a career-high 17 points, on 8-of-10 shooting, to lead five UB players in double-figures. The junior forward added six rebounds and three blocked shots.
Mulkey finished with 16 points and added eight assists and a pair of steals. McCrea chipped in with 15 points and four rebounds. Filzen finished with 12 points.
The Bulls shot 56 percent from the field for the game, marking the third straight outing they shot over 50 from the field for the game.
Buffalo outscored BYU, 46-32, in the paint. But BYU managed to convert 20 UB turnovers into 25 points.
Free throw shooting was another discrepancy on the stat sheet as the Cougars shot 22-of-29 from the free throw line compared to just 9-of-14 for the Bulls.
"We shot the ball very well and got it inside enough to keep us within striking distance," head coach Reggie Witherspoon said. "But what we didn't do was keep them to one shot. We didn't continue to have good movement for 40 minutes."
Buffalo will close out non-conference play at Cornell on Monday night.