Cats seek improvement at Buffalo

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With a schedule that includes 10 consecutive road games to start the season, University of Vermont men’s basketball coach Mike Lonergan is aware his team might take a few lumps this month.

That much is understandable, he says.

“I’m not going to get too hung up in wins and losses,” Lonergan said.

However, he would like to see his team play better than it during a season-opening loss at Loyola of Maryland on Friday night. The Catamounts will try to bounce back Sunday when they play at Buffalo at 5:30 p.m.

Vermont dropped a 79-66 decision to Loyola with Marqus Blakely (26 points, nine rebounds, five blocks) shining and several of the guards floundering. The Catamounts only hit 34 percent of their shots, including 4 of 14 from 3-point range.

“I don’t think we can shoot much worse than that,” Lonergan said. “A lot of teams are going to be collapsing on Marqus, so we have to make open shots.”

Vermont grabbed a 78-70 win over Buffalo last season in the ESPN BracketBusters at Patrick Gym.

Buffalo returns four starters from a team that lost in the Mid-American Conference championship game. Rodney Pierce, a senior shooting guard, is the Bulls’ main scoring threat and a MAC all-star. Buffalo, according to a season preview that appeared in the Buffalo News, is more up-tempo than it was last season. The Bulls were tabbed third in the MAC’s East Division in the league’s preseason poll.

“Each game is going to get tougher for us,” said Lonergan, whose team also plays at Rutgers and Providence before Thanksgiving, then travels to Philadelphia for Legends Classic games against Cornell and Drexel, which lost to St. Joseph’s in overtime Friday, and Toledo.

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