His University at Buffalo career was in its infancy when it became exceedingly apparent there was something special about Javon McCrea. He arrived with the build of a linebacker but moved as nimbly as a cat. He was so adept at going to the basket with either hand that the coaching staff was unsure whether he was right-handed or left. And he arrived from Newark High School with a basketball IQ far beyond that of the typical freshman forward, especially one just 17 years old.
It was fashionable to wonder back then what kind of numbers McCrea would construct as he made his way through his UB career. Heading into the final two months of his tenure, the answers are as impressive as anticipated.
McCrea scored 19 points Wednesday night to eclipse 1,800 for his career and power UB to a 69-48 victory over a Ball State team more defiant than the score would indicate. The outcome avenged UB’s 71-68 loss in Muncie, Ind., on Jan. 23, improved the Bulls to 10-0 at Alumni Arena and marked their 17th straight home-court victory over teams from the Mid-American Conference West. They are 12-7 overall, 6-3 in conference and, because of Ohio’s loss at Western Michigan, now have just two teams (Akron and Toledo) in front of them in the quest for the double-bye into the MAC Tournament semifinals.
McCrea already holds down third place on the school’s all-time scoring list but his ascent to the throne appears a matter of formality. He has 1,801 points, 32 behind second-place Jim Horne (1951-55) and 107 behind all-time leader Rasaun Young (1993-98). With at least 10 games left in the regular and postseasons, McCrea need average just 10.7 to reach Young, a given for someone who averages 17.5.
Ball State knew what McCrea could do. He had 28 points and 11 boards in the first meeting and upped the rebounds total to 14 on this night.
“Javon’s aggressive every night,” said senior guard Jarod Oldham (17 points, five assists). “It’s not like he has one go-to move or anything like that. He’s almost like a point-forward out there.”
“I’m living in the moment so I don’t really think about it as much,” McCrea said. “I just try to stay as consistent as I can and that’s helped me a lot.”
“I’m a little annoyed,” deadpanned Bulls coach Bobby Hurley. “I was 1,750 in my career, so he’s doing better than me.”
Down seven at the half, Ball State (4-16, 1-8) drew within 31-29 on a three by senior guard Chris Bond (15 points). Again, McCrea stepped up and gave UB some breathing room, scoring on a layup and going 4 of 6 on three trips to the line. When Shannon Evans followed up with a layup in transition set up by Oldham, the Bulls were beginning to look like themselves and their edge was up to 41-32.
McCrea hit the 1,800-point mark when he drew a fifth foul on Cardinals big man Majok Majok and hit two free throws for his final points of the night with 5:47 left. As a junior he became UB’s single-season scoring leader with 611 points. He’s the only player in MAC history to accumulate 1,600 points, 800 rebounds and 200 assists. One big question remains: Will he make at least one three-pointer before his career is through?
“Oh, yeah, definitely,” McCrea said. “The guys kid me about it a lot. I got to make one before I get out of here.”