Falcons hosts No. 18 Buffalo

Evan Hayes and Evan Hayes

After a sluggish performance Saturday against the Miami Redhawks saw his team’s ten-game winning streak snap, head coach Michael Huger spoke of the struggles of teaching his team to win consistently.

“Sometimes you have to take that loss to get them back hungry and refocused, and I think that was one of those losses right now,” Huger said. “I didn’t want to lose, but it is what it is. We’ve got to refocus and get ready for Buffalo.”

The loss at Miami was a small bump in what has been the most successful start to a season under Huger’s tenure at Bowling Green, with the team sitting tied for first place in the Mid-American Conference holding a 14-6 record overall and a 6-1 record in conference. But the Falcons will face their biggest test of the season Friday night when Buffalo, the other first-place squad, and number 18 on the AP top 25 rankings, visits the Stroh Center.

Buffalo is the only MAC school Bowling Green has yet to defeat during Huger’s tenure with the program, having won the past nine matchups in the series between the two schools. The Bulls will arrive at the Stroh as the highest ranked men’s basketball team to play on Bowling Green’s campus and the winners of two straight MAC contests.

Buffalo has been arguably the best offensive team in the MAC this season, averaging a conference-best 84.7 points per game and winning by an average of 14.7 points per game. They play an efficient brand of basketball while stretching out defenses, making an average of 9.6 3-point field goals per game (second in MAC) while averaging only 11.5 turnovers with a conference-best 1.51 assist to turnover ratio. In short, they take care of the ball while scoring efficiently and often.

Bowling Green, meanwhile, has been one of the better defensive teams in the conference this season. The Falcons lead the country in rebounds per game (43.7) and lead the MAC in defensive rebounds per game (30.6) and rebounding margin (9.4), led by senior forward Demajeo Wiggins, who is fifth in the country in rebounds per game (11.7) and sixth in defensive rebounds (174).

The Falcons have also done a good job of locking up opponents this season, holding them to 39.8 percent shooting from the floor, the 24th best mark in the nation. They have held conference opponents to 28.6 shooting from 3-point range, which is the best mark in the MAC, and have been dominant at the Stroh, holding a 10-0 record at home this season.

With their best start at home since the 1999-2000 season on the line, the Falcons will have a good chance at taking sole possession of the MAC if they stick to their strengths. The game is scheduled for an 8 p.m. tip-off Friday and will be nationally televised on CBS Sports Network.