KALAMAZOO, MI - For the second straight game on its roadtrip out west, the Buffalo men's basketball team put together a dominating second half to come back and win a crucial conference matchup. This time, though, it was much less daunting task going in to halftime. A career-high 16 points from Dave Barnett and five Bulls scoring in double figures helped the team beat Western Michigan 79-68 Tuesday evening.
The first half was an even matchup, with the two teams trading baskets throughout. Neither team led by more than six points and there were eight ties. A three-pointer from Western countered by a buzzer-beating two-pointer from Zach Filzen gave the Broncos a 38-37 lead heading in to the half. Barnett scored 11 points and had two steals and Filzen added another ten points to lead all Buffalo scorers.
Coming out of the gate in the second half, the Buffalo offense got a boost from the return of Mitchell Watt, Jawaan Alston and Titus Robinson after each player had earned two fouls in the first half. Watt scored six of his ten total points in the second half to spark the team down low. It was a well-balanced scoring attack, with five different players scoring five or more points. The team shot 71.4 percent from the floor, the second straight game in which the team shot better than 70 percent in the second period.
Freshman Javon McCrea had a terrific second half in nearly every facet of the game, scoring seven points, grabbing a rebound and dishing out three assists. The Newark, NY native actually led the team for the game with four total assists and zero turnovers. Byron Mulkey again helped control the team, with his jumper giving the team a lead just over three minutes into the second half, a lead Buffalo would not surrender again.
The Bulls held Western Michigan at an arms length throughout the half, matching any run the Broncos would make with another basket. While the team only attempted five three pointers in the second period, it made each shot count, hitting four of them. As time wore down, the Broncos defense sent Mulkey to the line eight times, but the senior guard would make them pay, hitting seven free throws to seal another road victory.
Now 4-2 in the Mid American Conference, Buffalo remains tied for first with Bowling Green. This is the fourth straight game that the Bulls have outrebounded its opponents and it is no coincidence that the team is undefeated in that stretch. Filzen, who has been hot from downtown as of late, hit five three pointers in the game while leading the team with 19 points. When Filzen hits five or more three pointers, Buffalo is 5-0.
With the two-game road trip in the books, next up will be a home game against Northern Illinois. The game will tip at noon and will be the first of a doubleheader with the women's basketball team.