At least 11 games remain in UB’s basketball season, leaving Javon McCrea ample time to make a pronounced move up the school’s all-time scoring list.
Could he catch Bulls assistant coach Turner Battle and crack the Top 5? Might he push his way even higher? There’s no telling what the junior from Newark could achieve between now and then as he continues on with a career that should make him the most accomplished player in the history of the program.
McCrea was at it again Wednesday night at Alumni Arena. Using his strength and quickness to maximum advantage, the 6-foot-7 McCrea scored 17 points to top 1,200 for his career in a 91-73 Mid-American Conference divisional crossover romp over Central Michigan before 2,552 onlookers. He had plenty of help, too, as the Bulls placed five players in double figures while sizzling at a 57.7 percent clip from the floor.
UB improved to 8-13 overall and 3-4 in the MAC with its 10th straight victory over Western Division teams. Central Michigan, which starts two freshmen and has six on the roster, fell to 9-11, 2-5 under first-year coach Keno Davis, the former head man at Drake and Providence.
It was standard stuff. McCrea entered as the MAC’s leading scorer in conference games at 20 points per game. He’s found his way into double figures in 19 of 21 games while averaging 17.1 overall. He scored his 1,000th career point against St. Bonaventure on Dec. 1, sits at 1,214 after Wednesday’s effort and just might reach Battle at No. 5 (1,414 points) before the conclusion of his junior year. The all-time leader is Rasaun Young, who scored 1,908 between 1993-98.
As a freshman, McCrea scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in his UB debut. In that season’s MAC Tournament he poured in 28 on Kent State. A week later, in the College Insider Tournament, he dumped 29 on Iona. In those two games he was a combined 24 of 34 from the field.
His ascent on the career statistical lists has been so relentless he seems to advance multiple spots in a blink. Besides the points, he’s up to third all-time in blocks and is one of just eight Bulls to reach 1,000 points and 500 rebounds in a career.
“The guys who rack up big numbers are guys who have pretty good freshman years,” Bulls coach Reggie Witherspoon said. “It’s sort of like when I see guys my age as grandparents; they got started early. Guys that have the kind of numbers Javon has, he jumped in there early and got going. Then you’ve got to sustain it, or maybe improve upon it. I think that’s where he is. Those are some big, gaudy numbers.”
“I don’t really think about it, I think that’s why I have so much success,” McCrea said. “I just want to win for my team.”
Could UB still tap more out of its star forward? Witherspoon certainly thinks it’s possible.
“If he’s going to put these numbers at a point where they come back in 20 years and still can’t believe it then he better get aggressive,” Witherspoon said. “That’s my message to Javon McCrea.”
“As he progresses, us as players also progress with him,” said junior forward Cameron Downing, who set a career-high with 21 points. “We have to guard him every day. We have to try to be on the same page with him. So we also have to progress with him and get better as well.”
On this night for the Bulls, scoring came with relative ease. Downing, like McCrea, was 8 of 10 from the field. Auraum Nuiriankh added a career-high 18, going 12 of 12 from the line. Both came in averaging fewer than 6 per game. Freshman Jarryn Skeete (12) and senior Tony Watson (11) also hit double figures.
Central Michigan got 23 out of Kyle Randall.
For more on this game, go to the Campus Watch blog at buffalonews.com.