Ohio's 73-66 loss to Buffalo won't show up anywhere other than the schedule and the standings.
It's still a loss for a team that's running out of chances to right the ship as the season rapidly nears the homestretch. The Bobcats still have the same stinging feeling they've felt for most of conference play.
But Friday at The Convo, the Bobcats earned a victory of the moral variety. It doesn't count for anything, and it even might seem condescending to bring up. Yet, in facing the Mid-American Conference's best team, Ohio found itself routinely within striking distance of Buffalo.
Despite that, the Bobcats couldn't find the buckets they needed to make a late run. It's been a familiar refrain all season, but it held true once again.
Here are three takeaways from Ohio's loss:
1. A loud out
Buffalo coach Nate Oats entered his postgame press conference, sat down and immediately got to the point.
"I think they played better than we did," he said.
Ohio wasn't supposed to, on paper, hang with a Buffalo team that has 16 wins and is unbeaten in conference play. But the Bobcats did, and they nearly knocked off the Mid-American Conference's giant.
"It's a loud out," coach Saul Phillips said. "It is what it is."
Despite being outrebounded 30-15 in the first half, and a 25.9 percent shooting percentage, Ohio (9-11, 2-6 MAC) trailed by only nine at half. The Bobcats were the only team to come within 10 points of the Bulls in conference play this season.
"We probably did the best in the conference in playing them, so that's a plus," Teyvion Kirk said. "Still got a lot of work today. Just hopefully going forward we can continue to work hard so we can pull that one out next time."
2. Teyvion Kirk
Kirk was the star of the show for Ohio on Friday night.
The freshman guard finished with a double-double: 18 points and 10 rebounds. He impressed Oats enough to say that he was the best player on the floor, despite the Bobcats' loss.
Kirk had just three points at halftime, but led a 9-0 run — with seven points of his own — in the second half to bring Ohio back into the game once again.
"Ride the lightning, baby," Phillips said. "Ride the lightning. Someday, he'll be a sophomore. I wouldn't trade him, but ... the kid scored 18 tonight against two pretty good defensive guards. One that I think is probably the best defensive guard in the league in (Dontay) Caruthers. So it's not like he was doing it against nobody."
Kirk's mistakes sometimes proved costly, like when he fouled a Buffalo guard thinking Ohio had committed five fouls instead of six — which put the Bulls at the free throw line. But the good outweighed the bad for Kirk, who led Ohio in points and rebounds.
His night started when he and Oats began to trash talk after his first made 3-pointer, but it ended with a slammed fist into Kirk's chair on the bench after he fouled out. Still, that shouldn't take away from Kirk's standout night.
"TK's got enough confidence where he's not going to need counseling anytime soon, I can promise you that," Phillips said.
3. Second chance points
Ohio was lost the battle on the glass 51-38. But the true disparity came on second chance points, where Ohio was outscored 19-8. At one point in the second half, before a late Ohio push, the stat stood at 19-2.
"To me, the rebounds flared a little bit out of control in the first half, but we were able to navigate that because we didn't give up fast break points," Phillips said. "Those are two big ways they score. We took away one of them (but) weren't able to take away both."
The Bobcats hung around in the first half and even got the lead to within one, but weren't helped out in the paint. Buffalo doubled up Ohio in the first half, 30-15.
Despite holding the fast-paced Bulls to just two fast break points, the Bobcats couldn't control the glass well enough to prevent those second chance points.
Nick Perkins and Ikenna Smart had 30 combined points, while 6-foot-7 guard Jeremy Harris had 17.
The size of Buffalo was a problem for Ohio, which routinely found itself fighting for rebounds that could have led a second half comeback — it never came.