Last season, the Binghamton men’s basketball team faced off against No. 2 Michigan, and the game did not go as expected, with the Bearcats hanging with the Wolverines for 30 minutes. On Sunday, the Bearcats traveled to East Lansing, Michigan to take on No. 1 Michigan State, and the game went exactly as expected, with the Spartans (1-1) winning big over the Bearcats (0-2), 100-47. It was the first time since November 2001 that the Bearcats conceded 100 points in a game.
“They’re just really, really good, and their size is a big deal,” said Binghamton head coach Tommy Dempsey. “I was proud of the way we competed. Our guys — they never quit. We were diving on the floor for loose balls all day long, we were working our butts off on the glass, we got 14 offensive rebounds ourselves. We were hustling out there and we were competing.”
Throughout the contest, Michigan State displayed a balanced attack that involved many of its players. The Spartans were able to score from the outside, with seven 3-pointers, and from down low, with 54 points in the paint. Eleven total players scored points for the Spartans in the game, with five of them reaching double figures. Senior guard Cassius Winston, who played in the game only a day after his brother Zachary died after being hit by a train, co-led the Spartans with 17 points, along with junior forward Xavier Tillman.
Binghamton, on the other hand, struggled on offense, converting only 30 percent of its field goals and 20 percent of its free throws in the contest. Michigan State blocked seven of BU’s shots, and the Bearcats turned the ball over 21 times. Binghamton did see some success on the offensive glass with 14 offensive rebounds, but only managed to turn them into seven second-chance points. Sophomore guard Sam Sessoms led the Bearcats in scoring with 12 points on 5-for-17 shooting, followed closely by senior guard Richard Caldwell, Jr.’s 11 points.
One notable moment in the game for BU was the exit of senior forward Pierre Sarr, who left early in the contest with an apparent injury. Dempsey said after the game that the preliminary report on Sarr was a concussion, and that the symptoms he showed did not allow him to return to the floor that night.
“We lost Pierre [Sarr] in the first couple minutes of the game,” Dempsey said. “That was a tough thing because he’s our oldest and most physical guy. In a game like that, that hurt not having him … It was a tough blow to lose Pierre [Sarr] tonight, not that it decided the outcome, but just from a standpoint of trying to stay a little bit closer in the game.”
This was the first time in the history of Binghamton’s men’s basketball program that the team faced the top-ranked team in the country in the AP Top 25 Poll. Though they had just come off a loss to No. 2 Kentucky, the Spartans wasted no time in showing why they’re among the best teams in the nation, hitting three quick 3-pointers in the opening minutes of what turned into a magnificent offensive performance for them. Though the margin of defeat was large for Dempsey’s Bearcats, he did take some positives away from the matchup.
“The score is not the most important thing, especially at this stage of the season,” Dempsey said. “It’s about possession by possession, trying to execute your defensive rotations, trying to execute your offense and find some chemistry. We had some good things going on, it’s just not quite connected yet because there’s so many new faces, but I did see some bright spots, and we’ll focus on trying to get better and better and get ready for Wednesday night.”
Next up for the Bearcats is a road contest against Columbia, the final game before the team’s home opener. Tipoff against the Lions is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 13 from Francis S. Levien Gymnasium in New York, New York.