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1955-1956 Buffalo Bulls Basketball

by Scott Hollander
University at Buffalo Libraries

The 1955-1956 Buffalo Bulls basketball season was Mal Eiken’s 10th year and last season as head coach of the basketball Bulls. On February 7, 1956, he announced that it would be his last year in Buffalo. After 10 seasons, he was heading back to his native Minnesota to enter into private business.

Although graduation took a heavy toll on the 1955-1956 team, the undersized Bulls surprised many. One of the highlights in the successful season was a 70-66 upset win over a towering Akron squad. (see “UB Defeats Akron, 70-66, for 12th Victory of Cage Season” Buffalo Courier-Express, 18 February 1956)

It was hoped that the win over Akron would propel the Bulls into the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) tournament. The NAIA basketball tournament featured 32 small-school teams playing in a single-elimination format. Unfortunately, the NAIA invite never came.

The Bulls finished the season 17-3. Mal Eiken’s career record at Buffalo (1946-1956) ended at 140 won and 73 lost for a .657 winning percentage.

1955-1956 Buffalo Bulls Basketball Season

Date Home Team Score Visiting Team W-L-T Location
12/1/1955 Brockport State 57 – 65 Buffalo W Brockport, NY
12/3/1955 Cornell University 83 – 73 Buffalo L Ithaca, NY
12/7/1955 Buffalo 83 – 72 Hobart W Buffalo, NY
12/10/1955 Alfred University 78 – 80 Buffalo W Alfred, NY
12/14/1955 Buffalo 66 – 46 Buffalo State College W Buffalo, NY
12/16/1955 St. Lawrence University 82 – 68 Buffalo W Buffalo, NY
1/6/1956 Buffalo 74 – 88 Cortland State L Buffalo, NY
1/9/1956 Buffalo 73 – 44 Toronto W Buffalo, NY
1/11/1956 Buffalo 77 – 63 Puerto Rico W Buffalo, NY
1/13/1956 Buffalo 65 – 66 Colgate University L Buffalo, NY
1/18/1956 Buffalo 68 – 60 Brockport State W Buffalo, NY
2/4/1956 Buffalo 67 – 65 Western Ontario W Buffalo, NY
2/10/1956 R.P.I. 67 – 58 Buffalo W Troy, NY
2/12/1956 Buffalo 98 – 61 McMaster University W Buffalo, NY
2/17/1956 Buffalo 70 – 66 Akron W Buffalo, NY
2/22/1956 Hobart 46 – 50 Buffalo W Geneva, NY
2/25/1956 Rochester 71 – 73 Buffalo W Rochester, NY
2/28/1956 Western Reserve 86 – 88 Buffalo W Cleveland, OH
3/1/1956 Buffalo 86 – 60 Alfred University W Buffalo, NY
3/3/1956 Buffalo State College 68 – 58 Buffalo W Buffalo, NY

Home Court: Clark Memorial Gymnasium
Coach: Malcolm S. Eiken

UB Defeats Akron, 70-66,
for 12th Victory of Cage Season

Annable And Levitt Star For Buffalo

The University of Buffalo basketball team won one for its coach, the retiring Mal Eiken, as it nipped towering Akron, 70-66, in a tingler last night in Clark Gymnasium.

Bill Annable, senior center from Middleport, played the game of his career to help make the Bulls’ record 12-3. He made 18 points and swept the boards against opponents three and four inches taller. Next highest scorer for UB was Kurt Lang, with 17 before going out on fouls with five minutes to play.

A most significant contribution was that of Dave Levitt who came off the bench for a 12-point night. During the final 1:50 Levitt dribbled magically and went six for six from the free throw line. Akron, coming in with a 17-2 mark, was led by Dick Ondecker, a clever forward, with 16, and sharpshooting Joe Wood, with 15.

UB trailed 6-0 against Akron’s zone and was down 11-3 when Art Cholewinski tapped a rebound. Annable followed suit, Lang hit two free throws and Chuck Daniels found the mark with a jump. The Bulls went on to a 38-34 advantage at halftime.

Zippers Rally

Akron, which closed the gap to one point in the second period, called time when trailing 57-47. and closed in again on Wood’s leap and Larry Ondecker’s two free throws. The Zippers had abandoned the zone by this time.

The Bulls slashed the man-for-man setup with drives off the post by Daniels, two by Lang and another by Roy Fowler, with only Wood’s side push shot as an answer.

Akron rallied a bit later on a push by Johnny Economou and a jump by Wood, but the Bulls protected the ball well to hold their margin the rest of the way.

The victory enhanced UB’s chances of competing in the NAIA regionals next month. An invitation would be a fitting climax to Eiken’s career. He will leave UB in June.

Buffalo Courier-Express, February 18, 1956