BUFFALO, N.Y. — For a large chunk of the first half, Ohio looked like one of the Mid-American Conference's best teams. The Bobcats made shots and played even against the conference's top team. Everything looked to be going according to plan.
Then, in a swift, six-minute sequence, Buffalo opened the floodgates, and Ohio couldn't stop it. The game wasn't close again.
In a microcosm for Ohio over the last week, everything appeared promising — then it all crashed down in an ugly, lackluster 108-82 loss at Alumni Arena.
“They’re an angry team coming into this one," coach Saul Phillips said. "Last time we played them, they were undefeated in the league and rolling along pretty good. Mood can affect the urgency we should come out with fairly easily, probably caught them at a bad time. But again, none of that excuses as many transition points as we gave up.”
The Bobcats originally jumped out to a 13-5 lead in the game's first four minutes and were tied with the Bulls at 31 with just under six minutes left to play in the first half. It was a promising sign for a team trying to prove it belongs in the MAC Tournament picture, set to begin on March 5.
That 13-5 lead was the only bright spot of the day for Ohio, a time when it looked like Buffalo could be in for a challenge on its home floor.
Then Buffalo ended the half on a 25-11 run, which crippled any doubt of a potential comeback. The second half wasn't better: Buffalo shot 46 percent and finished the half with an additional 52 points. It was the most points Ohio had allowed in a half and in a game this season.
“They scored on 11 of 12 possessions and a lot of them were simple transitions," Phillips said of the run. "And they can go, don’t get me wrong, they’re good at it. It’s what they practice and what we did really well at our place and it’s what we did not nearly as well tonight.”
Ohio had trouble defending the low post, too, as Nick Perkins dominated the paint with 21 points and four rebounds for an overpowering performance down low. Overall, the Bobcats were dominated on the rebound count and were outrebounded 48-32.
"They’re a really explosive team at some points," forward Doug Taylor said. "They have a lot of bursts on offense, they got so hot, they turned their defensive into offense."
The 108 points was the most Buffalo had scored all season long and the most that Ohio had allowed since Dec. 18, 2010, in a four overtime loss to St. Bonaventure. It's also the most points the Bobcats have allowed in regulation since the turn of the century.
“I don’t like giving up this many points, but they’re a good offensive team," Phillips said. "It was an 82 possession game, that was disappointing to me. If you’d have told me it was going to be an 82 possession game, I’d have told you it’s going to be a tough road for us.”
The Bobcats had lost to the Bulls once this season already, a game in Athens on Jan. 26 that ended in a 73-66 loss. But Saturday, there was no resemblance to the close finish in The Convo. Rather, there were walk-ons and role players finishing out the final few minutes, a stark contrast for a game that the Bobcats hoped would show they belonged.
Instead, Saturday only showed the difference between one of the conference's best teams and one of the conference's worst.