Deandre Ayton, Arizona Suffer Blowout Loss to Buffalo in 2018 NCAA Tournament

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistMarch 16, 2018

BOISE, ID - MARCH 15:  Allonzo Trier #35 of the Arizona Wildcats reacts after missing a basket against the Buffalo Bulls during the first round of the 2018 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Taco Bell Arena on March 15, 2018 in Boise, Idaho.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Deandre Ayton can start preparing for the NBA draft. The 13th-seeded Buffalo Bulls ended the fourth-seeded Arizona Wildcats' tourney run early with a 89-68 win in first-round action in Boise, Idaho.  

The MAC champion pulled off the biggest upset of the tourney thus far on the strength of stellar performances from Jeremy Harris and Wes Clark. The two guards spearheaded a shooting performance that included 15 Buffalo threes. 

It was a disappointing effort from Ayton, who is expected to be a top NBA draft pick this summer, and the rest of the Wildcats. Sean Miller's team was disjointed on offense and allowed the Bulls to shoot 54.8 percent from the floor. 

While Arizona was effective on offense when it was aggressive, the same couldn't be said for the defense. The Wildcats were outright passive at times, and it didn't go unnoticed:

Perhaps even more frustrating than the overall effort from the talented Wildcats was the perplexing disappearance of Ayton from their offense. Despite the difficulty the Bulls had guarding him, Arizona didn't feature him nearly enough at times. Lindsay Schnell of USA Today noted the lack of the star center in the offense:

Instead, the Wildcats had a little too much Allonzo Trier in the mix. Trier was not shy about shooting the ball, even if he was inefficient from the field, going 4-of-15 from the floor, including 0-of-5 from downtown. 

The Bulls established they weren't going to go away quietly from the opening tip. Buffalo rode the efforts of Harris and Missouri transfer Clark to a combined 27 points in the first half to give the MAC champions a 40-38 lead at halftime.

It wasn't hard to see where the players were getting their confidence from, per Reid Forgrave of CBS Sports:

Harris was aggressive as a slasher and shooter for the Buffalo offense. The JUCO transfer got his 23 points on 10-of-20 shooting from the field and made clutch play after clutch play as the Bulls built their improbable lead:

Clark was efficient from the field while playing the role of floor general. He racked up seven assists to go with his 25 points (10-of-14 shooting) in 33 minutes. 

But even more important was Clark's role as a leader on a team that clearly wanted to make its mark on the tournament. The Bulls' energy and passion on the floor clearly won over Twitter: 

Buffalo will now look to extend its Cinderella run against the No. 5 seed Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday. After this performance, it'll certainly be a game circled on fans' calendars. 

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