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USF's Chris Perry out indefinitely

Four days after USF sophomore PF Chris Perry exited an evening practice with chest pains, the school announced the former Bartow High standout will be sidelined indefinitely with a "health issue." Here's the recent timeline of events involving Perry.

Saturday: Perry is stricken with chest pains during an evening workout at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn., and is hospitalized. "I was concerned, I didn't know what really happened," SG Corey Allen Jr. said. "I just know like, 20 minutes into practice, he went with the trainer, and toward the end of practice that's when I learned...he went to the hospital that night."

Sunday: Roughly midway through the Bulls' game against Connecticut, Perry arrives on the Bulls bench in street clothes, and spends the rest of the game vigorously cheering on his team.

Monday: Perry doesn't appear at practice. At some point upon the team's return to Tampa, he undergoes further tests for his chest ailment.

Tuesday: Perry doesn't appear at practice. Coach Orlando Antigua says Perry is "day to day," offering no further details.

Wednesday: Roughly six hours before the Bulls tip off against SMU, USF issues a 16-word statement indicating Perry will be out "indefinitely with a health issue."

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USF's Courtney Williams collects 2 honors

USF junior SG Courtney Williams now finds herself on an awards and scoring tear.

Williams, who stretched her streak of consecutive 20-point games to five with Sunday's near triple-double (24 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists) in a 19-point romp of Tulane, was named the American Athletic Conference Player of the Week on Monday.

The same honor was bestowed by collegesportsmadness.com.

A bona fide All-America candidate at this stage, Williams (20 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 3.5 assists) shot better than 50 percent (22-for-43) from the floor in two victories last week. During her streak of 20-point efforts, she's averaging 23.8 points, 9.4 rebounds and 4.4 assists.

The Bulls (16-4, 7-1 AAC), in sole possession of second place in the league standings, are off until Saturday afternoon's game at Memphis.

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USF's Jose Fernandez earns 250th win

USF women's basketball coach Jose Fernandez earned career victory No. 250 on Sunday.

JOEY KNIGHT | Times

USF women's basketball coach Jose Fernandez earned career victory No. 250 on Sunday.

Fittingly, USF coach Jose Fernandez's 250th career victory Sunday embodied most of what he has espoused in his 14-plus seasons in Tampa.

A brisk pace, suffocating defense, and force of will on the glass.

Fernandez received nearly a triple-double from junior Courtney Williams (24 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists) and watched the Bulls (16-4, 7-1 American Athletic Conference) hold Tulane to six first-half field goals in a 64-45 romp at the Sun Dome. 

Fernandez now is 250-212 since becoming the Bulls' sixth coach in 2000. His teams have accounted for 43 percent of the 43-year-old program's 580 triumphs, and both its NCAA Tournament appearances.

Berth No. 3 seems secure if the regular season's final month reflects Sunday's effort.

"I thought, the way we defended and played today, we could've beaten a lot of people," Fernandez said.

Tulane (15-4, 6-2), technically tied with USF for second in the league standings entering the weekend, went more than five minutes without a field goal in one first-half stretch. By intermission, the Green Wave had committed 11 turnovers and had been out-rebounded 26-16.

"Our defense was very important because during practice after (last weekend's) UConn game (a 92-50 loss), we really worked on our transition defense," said junior PF Alisia Jenkins, whose squad held Tulane to four fast-break points.

"We had our (all-male) scout team out there making sure that we sprint the floor. Even though they're men, they really ran to their full potential, so that helped us get back and we just transferred that to the game."

Tulane scored the first two field goals of the second half to cut USF's lead to 33-22 before Boca Ciega alumnus Tamara Taylor answered with a 3-pointer. A 10-0 Bulls run midway through the half, starting with a Williams jumper and ending with a Williams trey, sealed Fernandez's milestone win.

"I've been very fortunate," he said.

" Tampa's been very good to my family and I, and I've seen this university grow a great deal in the last 15 years. ... It's been really special being able to build this program and to work with so many great people and coach just wonderful student-athletes."

Williams now has scored at least 20 points in five consecutive games. Jenkins added her 13th double-double (10 points, 10 rebounds), while freshman Laura Ferreira added 13 points and seven boards.

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Telly Lockette: Taggart will 'turn it around'

Former USF running backs coach Telly Lockette recently accepted the same job at Oregon State.

Photo provided by USF Athletics

Former USF running backs coach Telly Lockette recently accepted the same job at Oregon State.

After a round or two of phone tag, the Tampa Bay Times caught up with former USF running backs coach Telly Lockette, who recently accepted the same job (from a former mentor) at Oregon State. Here's the dialogue:

I'm presuming the opportunity to coach in the Pac-12, in a power conference, was just too good of an opportunity to pass up.
"Came down to it, me and (USF) Coach (Willie) Taggart really talked about it. I asked him what he thought about it and he said it was a great opportunity and he thought you shouldn't turn it down. I consulted with him first, you know. He sort of gave it to me like it was the way he got to Stanford...and learned what he had to learn, and then he came back and did what he had to do."

Did (new OSU coach) Gary Andersen recruit you to Idaho State? (Lockette was a standout ISU linebacker in the mid-1990s)
"He was on staff."

How tough was it to leave a situation where you've a talented young backfield like D'Ernest (Johnson) and Marlon Mack?
"It was tough. And then you've got to take in consideration the kids I recruited there that came to South Florida. ... But I called all my parents, all the kids I recruited...and told them what was going down. A lot of them gave me their blessings. It was just one of those things, you know?"

This is a business and it's your job to recruit the best players possible to your school. Do you still keep recruiting the same (USF prospects) to Oregon State, or how does that work?
"You know, it's a business, and like I said, I'll help those guys in any way I can. But if need be...on signing day, those guys I recruited will sign with USF."

A lot of people I talk to, including coaches, say USF is so close it's not even funny. I know you're biased, but do you see USF on the cusp of turning the corner?
"Yes. ... I think Coach Taggart is doing a tremendous job. You've got to understand, he's trying to change a culture of kids in less than a couple of years. And what he's been doing is a tremendous job. I think he can do it. With the staff that he he has there, they can do it. You've got to understand, we were in a lot of those games last year. ... So yeah, he'll turn it around."

Was the move across the country a tough sell to your family?
"My family's good with it. My wife, my kids, they're cool with it. I talked it over with my mom, and she was like, 'You've got to do what you've got to do to get where you're going.' It's an opportunity but you have to make the tough decisions at some point in time."

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Bulls' Matthew O'Neal sets indoor record

USF junior Matthew O'Neal propelled his wiry frame into USF track and field lore Friday night.

Question is, can he now hop, skip and jump his way into Bulls immortality?

O'Neal shattered the school's indoor triple jump record with a winning effort (53 feet, 11 inches; or 16.43 meters) at the UAB Vulcan Invite in Birmingham, Ala. The performance also broke the  CrossPlex Arena's 3-year-old mark (16.38 meters).

Shane Lewis, a 2014 NCAA Indoor All-American, owned the previous USF record (52-4). O'Neal's career-best entering the weekend was 52-1.

"There’s not going to be many people in the country that will jump nearly 54 feet,” Bulls coach Warren Bye said.

The nation's top 16 performances qualify for the NCAA Indoors, set for mid-March in Fayetteville, Ark. A two-time outdoor All-American, O'Neal appears poised for a shot at becoming the school's first national indoor champion.

USF's only current NCAA track champ: Jon Dennis, who won a pair of outdoor 5,000-meter titles in the early 1990s.

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Officially official: USF-UK to meet in men's hoops

What we reported last summer has become official: USF's men's basketball team will face Kentucky for the first time in program history at downtown Miami's American Airlines Arena on Nov. 27. 

USF will play a return game at Rupp Arena in the 2016-17 season, UK confirmed.

The Bulls-'Cats Black Friday contest may coincide -- or conflict with, depending on one's perspective -- the Bulls-UCF football game, staged the day after Thanksgiving the last two seasons. Dates for '15 American Athletic Conference football games haven't been announced.

The inaugural USF-UK contest, part of the Hoophall Miami Invitational, also will include an Ohio State-Memphis matchup.

Bulls first-year coach Orlando Antigua spent the previous five seasons on John Calipari's UK staff, and served with him one season (2008-09) at Memphis.

"We look forward to the challenge of playing one of the greatest programs in the history of college basketball," Antigua said in a UK news release. "I was fortunate enough to spend five great seasons at Kentucky, so obviously have great respect for that program and (Calipari).”

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T-minus 13 days: USF recruiting notebook

In the final, frenetic days leading to national signing day (Feb. 4), we'll offer periodic updates of USF's recruiting efforts. Here's the latest we know:

* No fewer than four Bulls assistants -- defensive coordinator Tom Allen, cornerbacks coach Alonzo Hampton, defensive line coach Eric Mathies and passing-game coordinator David Reaves -- visited Armwood ILB Jordan Griffin at his school Thursday. Coach Sean Callahan told the Tampa Bay Times that Griffin -- who committed to Wisconsin before the Badgers had a coaching change -- remains "open" to Wisconsin, USF and Vanderbilt.

* No so much news as reassurance for Bulls fans: Trinity Valley (Texas) CC WR Jarvis Baxter told the Times he remains a solid USF commitment and will sign on signing day. Similarly, Plant WR Jordan Reed is a "100-percent done deal" for the Bulls, Panthers coach Robert Weiner said.

* As Runningthebulls.com reported, Bulls pledge Khalid McGee, a three-star cornerback from Miami Northwestern, visits Oregon State this weekend. New OSU -- and former USF -- running backs coach Telly Lockette has recruited McGee for both programs.

* Former Vanderbilt QB/WR Josh Grady said Thursday he has narrowed his transfer choices to Florida and USF. Grady, who quarterbacked Armwood to the Class 4A state final in 2010, has said he wants to play his old position at USF. "I have spoken with (USF) coach (Willie Taggart) since being released to talk to USF," Grady said in a text message to the Times. "Once signing day is over, I'll plan out my visit to USF." …

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Bulls poised for historic February

USF junior Alisia Jenkins (right) and the rest of the Bulls can make history with a February hot streak.

AP Photo

USF junior Alisia Jenkins (right) and the rest of the Bulls can make history with a February hot streak.

Indulge us for a moment as we commit the cardinal sin of sports and look past a few opponents into the future.

The upcoming month potentially could be historic for USF's women's basketball team.

The Bulls (15-4, 6-1 American Athletic Conference) can reach two elusive program landmarks down the regular season stretch. Not only can they eclipse the program record for consecutive wins (nine), they can become the first team in school history to go undefeated in February.

The schedule sets up beautifully for such a run.

USF's current win streak stands at one, but the Bulls -- second only to UConn in the AAC -- likely will be favored in each of their next 10 games. Of those next 10 foes, five already have lost to the Bulls.

The UConn rematch is set for March 2, USF's final regular season game.

Here's a look at the Bulls' next 10 contests, with the result of the season's first encounter (where applicable):

Sunday vs. Tulane (USF, 53-40 on Jan. 4)
Jan. 31 at Memphis (USF, 72-39 on Dec. 31)
Feb. 3 vs. UCF (first meeting)
Feb. 7 vs. Cincinnati (first meeting)
Feb. 10 at SMU (USF, 82-59 on Jan. 14)
Feb. 15 at East Carolina (USF, 69-62 on Dec. 28)
Feb. 18 vs. Tulsa (first meeting)
Feb. 22 vs. Temple (USF, 70-58 on Jan. 11)
Feb. 24 at Cincinnati (first meeting is Feb. 7)
Feb. 28 at UCF (first meeting is Feb. 3)

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Bulls head to Philly near full strength

USF's men's basketball team still might be reeling, but at least it's no longer hobbling.

Coach Orlando Antigua said Tuesday the Bulls could be at full strength for Thursday night's game at Temple, where they'll try to snap a three-game skid. Everyone participated in individual work Monday, he added.

By contrast, the Bulls (7-11, 1-4 AAC) had seven healthy scholarship bodies by the end of Saturday's 75-58 loss to Tulsa. PF Chris Perry banged up his shoulder after a Golden Hurricane player landed on it, G Corey Allen Jr. (two points) was limited to 23 minutes by a sore calf, and PF Bo Zeigler (right knee) didn't play at all.

On Monday, Perry "went through everything," Antigua said. The other two?

"Bo was good. We expect him to be out there, we need him to be out there," Antigua added. "(Allen) looked really good. He had a lot of pop, a lot of explosiveness in his movement (Monday), so that was good to see."

Temple (12-7, 3-3) has lost three in a row, to three of the league's top five teams (Tulsa, SMU, Cincinnati). Its signature win was a stunning 25-point romp of Kansas in December.

"I know they're 3-3 in conference but they've played some tough games," Antigua said.

"They've got three guys averaging double figures and almost a fourth one that could be averaging double figures, and all at different positions. They've got a good mix of veteran guys and young guys, so it'll be another good opportunity."

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USF's Eatmon a finalist for Rare Disease Champion Award

Former USF lineman Quinterrius Eatmon, who has a 20-month-old daughter battling a rare optical disorder, is a finalist for the 2015 Rare Disease Champion Award.

OCTAVIO JONES | Times

Former USF lineman Quinterrius Eatmon, who has a 20-month-old daughter battling a rare optical disorder, is a finalist for the 2015 Rare Disease Champion Award.

One of the most poignant of postseason football honors has yet to be awarded, and a Bulls alumnus remains in contention for it.

Former RT/RG Quinterrius Eatmon, who graduated in December with an economics degree, is among six finalists for the 2015 Rare Disease Champion Award presented by Uplifting Athletes.

The award is given to a leader in college football who has realized his or her potential to make a positive and lasting impact on the rare disease community.

Eatmon and his wife Melyza - also a USF graduate -- have a 20-month-old daughter born with a rare optical condition that originally had doctors skeptical as to whether she'd ever see. Following a procedure in New York City, Melaynna gradually has regained a degree of vision, spawning hope she'll ultimately be able to read large-print books.

Fans can vote for one of the finalists at UpliftingAthletes.org. Voting ends Jan. 31, with the winner announced the following day to kick off Rare Disease Month. The Rare Disease Champion will be honored at the Maxwell Football Club Awards Gala on March 13 in Atlantic City.

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USF's Marvin Kloss named Offensive MVP at Shrine Game

Former USF kicker Marvin Kloss (left) was named Offensive MVP of the 90th East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field.

JOEY KNIGHT | Times

Former USF kicker Marvin Kloss (left) was named Offensive MVP of the 90th East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field.

The final act of Marvin Kloss' college career resembled so many others from the past two seasons.

Only this time, the stocky specialist nicknamed "Money" wasn't performing so much for the USF as he was for his immediate future.

Kloss, who booted a school-record 13 consecutive field goals at one point in his USF career, nailed all four of his attempts to win Offensive MVP honors at Saturday's East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field.

The East prevailed 19-3, with Kloss scoring 13 of his team's points. Working without an experienced holder or snapper, but also without a defensive rush, Kloss connected from 39, 30, 47 and 19 yards.

"It's a blessing," said Kloss, a 2013 Lou Groza Award finalist likely to land a free-agent invitation to an NFL training camp.

"It's a little different than at USF; the offense here doesn't really have a problem getting down in field-goal range. ... It helped that the rush wasn't too strong because the operation looked a little shaky at times, but I'm just blessed to get all the exposure that I can get."

The shakiness only seemed apparent to those within this makeshift special-teams unit. …

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USF-UConn: Bulls not scared of Storrs

USF's Courtney Williams (left), guarding Connecticut's Moriah Jefferson last season, said she "definitely" feels like the Bulls can upset the Huskies on the road Sunday.

AP Photo

USF's Courtney Williams (left), guarding Connecticut's Moriah Jefferson last season, said she "definitely" feels like the Bulls can upset the Huskies on the road Sunday.

In the case of USF-UConn, familiarity breeds composure. If nothing else, the Bulls won't be rattled when they face the No. 2-ranked Huskies and their largest audience of the year Sunday in Storrs.

The Bulls know this rodeo all too well, having faced UConn six times the past five seasons. Intimidation has dissipated, even if the Huskies' prowess hasn't.

"We all practice, we all put in the same amount of time," USF junior G Courtney Williams said. "We're in the gym extra the same way they're in the gym extra, so I don't see why we can't be the team to beat 'em."

Indeed, why not? Well, for starters, the Huskies have lost at Gampel Pavilion only four times this millenium. Additionally, they lead the country in blocks (7.3), field-goal percentage (53.3), field-goal percentage defense (31.9) and scoring margin (plus-37.5).

But considering USF's momentum (eight-game win streak) and defensive sturdiness (12 foes have shot less than 35 percent), the Bulls appear equipped to at least challenge a team it never has defeated in 14 tries.

Their chances dwindle greatly if they let UConn, 10th nationally in rebound margin (plus-10.7), control the boards.

"I think we've got to do a great job on the glass with them and we can't give Connecticut extra possessions -- extra possessions off the glass and extra possessions on live turnovers," Bulls coach Jose Fernandez said.

"If there's one thing that they do really, really well, it's a two-, three-, four-point game, and then the 8-2 run, the 10-0 run comes, and now you're crawling back and playing from behind. And then you start to take shots that you shouldn't have."

If that scenario transpires, Fernandez notes the sun again will rise Monday.

If the surreal scenario prevails, it will rise on the Bulls' first Associated Press ranking ever.

"You're chasing the dragon every year, that's what we call it," Fernandez said. "That's why you coach and that's why you build a program...and that's our next step. We've got to have a big, huge national signature win. It's a great opportunity for our kids."

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Quick recap: Bulls fall to Tulsa

At an hour when many USF students were sitting down to breakfast Saturday, the Bulls were shooting crisply and competing valiantly against American Athletic Conference front-runner Tulsa.

By lunch time, the Golden Hurricane (12-5, 5-0 AAC) had exploited USF's interior -- and turnover propensity -- to seize a lead they wouldn't relinquish.

The visitors got 21 points from 6-foot-3 sharpshooter James Woodard en route to a 75-58 triumph before a modest Sun Dome crowd that included Buccaneers Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy. The victory was Tulsa's seventh in a row; USF (7-11, 1-4) has dropped its last three.

The American Athletic Conference's worst 3-point shooting team (27 percent) entering the weekend, USF (7-11, 1-4) hit its first two treys and finished 11-for-20 from the floor in the first half.

But the Bulls committed 11 turnovers in that same span, and were further hamstrung by two quick fouls to power forward Chris Perry, who sat out the half's last 14 minutes. Tulsa capitalized, scoring 12 points off those turnovers and totaling seven second-chance points.

Perry (six points) logged only 22 minutes. Fellow forward Bo Zeigler (knee) didn't play at all.

Woodard hit three of his five 3-pointers in a five-minute span in the second half, the last giving Tulsa a 60-44 lead with 9:16 to go. Meantime, USF cooled off, finishing 10-for-30 from the floor after halftime.

Two-guard Nehemias Morillo led the Bulls with 15 off the bench, finishing 3-for-4 from long range.

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Toronto FC drafts USF's Wesley Charpie

Wesley Charpie was fidgeting in the living room of his boyhood home in Tarpon Springs when the moment he has anticipated more than 17 years unfolded on the screen before him.

It was a simple proclamation from a convention-center podium in Philadelphia.

With the eighth pick of the second round of the 2015 MLS SuperDraft, Toronto FC selects, from the University of South Florida...

"Then they said my name and it was a surreal moment, just a surreal moment," Charpie said. "My family just hugged it out."

Noted for his diet (heavy on the natural granola) and durability, Charpie, who started all 81 games in his USF career, became the sixth Bulls defender taken in the SuperDraft in the last five years. Last season's pick, first-rounder Ben Sweat, also hailed from Pinellas County (Palm Harbor University).

His celebration, fittingly, was projected to be modest. A first-team All-American Athletic Conference pick as a senior, he still sleeps eight hours nightly, his biological clock setting off alarms when he's off by even 30 minutes.

Served him well. A converted midfielder who graduated from Tarpon Springs High, Charpie helped USF secure 16 shutouts the last two seasons, and finished his college career with five goals and 21 assists. The Bulls made three NCAA Tournaments those four seasons.

"To be honest with you, (the celebration's) gonna be pretty low-key," he said. "We'll probably just talk about this crazy opportunity that came about and all the hard work that went into it."

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Bulls trounce SMU, await UConn

USF's women's basketball team extended its win streak to eight games with Wednesday's 82-59 rout of SMU.

JOEY KNIGHT | Times

USF's women's basketball team extended its win streak to eight games with Wednesday's 82-59 rout of SMU.

The formula for flatness manifested itself Wednesday at the Sun Dome. Four days before a showdown at second-ranked Connecticut, USF first had to deal with American Athletic Conference bottom feeder SMU, loser of its last eight.

On a night when the Bulls initially seemed uninspired, Courtney Williams was unconscious. The junior two-guard scored 19 of her 27 points in an otherwise sluggish first half as USF (14-3, 5-0) eventually pulled away for an 82-59 romp.

The victory was USF's eighth in a row. It can tie the school record Sunday against the Huskies.

"We've got to have a big, huge, national signature win," said Bulls coach Jose Fernandez, whose program is 0-14 alltime against UConn. "It's a great opportunity for our kids."

Some of them may have been looking ahead to it Wednesday.

The Bulls missed their first seven shots and had more turnovers (seven) than field goals (six) 12 minutes into the game. The first of Williams' three 3-pointers capped a 9-0 run to give USF a 17-11 lead, but SMU (4-12, 0-5) immediately answered with a trey of its own.

"I didn't think we defended like we usually do," said Fernandez, whose club led by only eight at intermission. "It was a very uncharacteristic first half. ... I'm sure a lot of people watching on (ESPN3) found something else to watch."

If they did, they missed Tamara Taylor's long-range clinic.

The Boca Ciega alumnus' pair of 3-pointers in a 53-second span early in the second half gave the Bulls a 42-30 lead. A 9-2 run -- capped by another Williams trey -- followed shortly thereafter, and USF never was seriously threatened again.

Williams finished with her sixth double-double (27 points, 11 rebounds, four assists) after outscoring the rest of USF's roster 19-17 in the first half. Taylor (18 points) had five of her career-record-tying six 3-pointers in the second half.

Trick now is to bring that shooting touch to Storrs. They won't bring timidness.

"I definitely feel like we can win," Williams said.

"We all practice, we all put in the same amount of time. We're in the gym extra the same way they're in the gym extra, so I don't see why we can't be the team to beat 'em."

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