Miami mauled by Buffalo in RedHawks’ MAC opener

Apparently, the Buffalo Bulls have long memories.

The last time Buffalo and the Miami RedHawks met in a men’s basketball game before Tuesday, 12th-seeded Miami upset the fifth-seeded Bulls in Buffalo and knocked them out of the Mid-American Conference tournament.

That was the Redhawks’ last game before the COVID-19 pandemic prematurely shut down the college basketball season.

The two teams met in Miami’s MAC seasonopener Tuesday, and Buffalo extracted some measure of revenge. The Bulls snapped a 2-2 tie with an early 9-0 run and led by as many as 32 points late in the second half on their way to a 90-62 rout of the RedHawks.

“That was a disappointing effort on our behalf,” fourth-year Miami coach Jack Owens said. “Buffalo was quicker to the ball. Give them credit. They played harder. We got punched in the face. It’s on me to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”

Three players reached double figures for Buffalo (3-2, 1-1), led by junior forward Jeenathan Williams’ 21 points. The Bulls also outrebounded the RedHawks, 49-30, leading to a 19-8 advantage in second-chance points.

Fourth-year junior guard Isaiah Coleman-Lands led Miami (3-2, 0-1) with 13 points off the bench. Junior guard Mekhi Lairy added 10.

“I think it was our energy level,” Coleman-Lands said. “They crushed us on the glass. We didn’t come out with the same energy that we had the last time. We’ve got to bring that every night. That was a major factor.”

“We were out of synch offensively, and I don’t know why,” Owens said. “Some guys were nervous at the start of the game. We thought they would settle in, but they never turned the corner. This game was not a reflection of our guys.”

The loss was Miami’s worst in a MAC opener and tied an 83-55 loss to Dayton in 1969 for the fourth-worst at home.

Miami, which has lost three consecutive conference-openers, is scheduled to play a non-conference game on Saturday at Bradley with an 8 p.m. Eastern time tipoff. The RedHawks announced on Tuesday the addition of two home games to its schedule. Both were postponed from earlier in the season. The RedHawks expect to play Defiance College, which competes in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference, on Monday at 5 p.m. They plan to follow up with a game Division II Bellarmine, which plays in the Great Lakes Valley Conference, on Wednesday at 3 p.m. Miami and Bellarmine originally were set to play on December 15 before the schedule was changed by the MAC moving up the RedHawks’ game against Buffalo from February to Tuesday.

Miami is scheduled to resume conference play at home against Ohio on December 29.

Shredding Miami’s interior defense, Buffalo (3-2, 1-1) shot 60.7 percent (17-of-28) from the field and went 9-for-12 on free throws on the way to a 47-28 halftime lead. Miami (3-2, 0-1) managed 34.3 percent (12-of-35) from the field and was outrebounded, 25-11, before halftime.

“I think the coaches did a really good job of preparing us,” Coleman-Lands said. “We just didn’t execute. We’ve got to execute and do a better job of guarding our guys.”

“They were quicker to the ball,” Owens said. “They were hungrier. They didn’t want to start the league 0-2 and showed it. They were just better than us in every facet of the game. Sonebody asked me last week if we were ready. We have to get better starts. That’s on me. They got two or three offensive rebounds at the start of the game, and that can’t happen. We have to be better.”

The Bulls opened the second half by hitting their first three 3-point shots.

“We’ve got to rally the troops,” Coleman-Lands said. “Obviously, the season isn’t over. This was just one game. It’s a long year, and it will have its ups and downs. We have to make sure to have more ups than downs. We’ve to play hard and focus our energy on the little things.”

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