Bulls dig 25-point hole early, fall to No. 24 Marquette
TAMPA -- There were seven turnovers and three missed shots in USF's first 11 possessions, and that was only the start.
The Bulls didn't really stop digging a hole until two minutes were left in the opening half, and No. 24 Marquette had a 38-13 lead. At that point, USF did well to trade baskets with the Golden Eagles, dropping to 1-9 in Big East play after a 70-47 loss before an announced crowd of 5,186.
"The turnovers were huge in the first half," said coach Stan Heath, whose team had 14 turnovers before the half, leading to 23 Marquette points. "Too good a team to led them race out to a lead. Ball wasn't dropping very well for us and I think that got a little frustrating for us, too. We've got to find a way to get ourselves a little bit tougher ... to put our heads down when things go wrong."
Much has gone wrong for the Bulls (10-12), who went 12-6 in the Big East during last year's NCAA Tournament run, but find themselves at the bottom of the Big East standings. Just nine days earlier, USF had played the same Marquette team much closer, trailing by eight with eight minutes to play in a 63-50 loss.
"I think part of that had to do with being overly aggressive. ... They made us pay with silly turnovers, and they got easy baskets," senior Toarlyn Fitzpatrick. "We just didn't protect the ball. I don't fault our guys for trying ... they're a really good defensive team. They like to press you, they like to speed you up, and that's exactly what they did."
Marquette (16-5, 7-2 in Big East) had four players in double figures, bouncing back nicely from a 70-51 loss at No. 12 Louisville on Sunday.
"I thought our guys' preparation and how they handled the whipping we took Sunday ... I thought they were really locked in today," coach Buzz Williams said. "It wasn't like it was James Naismith or anything, as far as the adjustments (from the first game)."
Heath gave 7-foot-3 freshman center Jordan Omogbehin a rare start -- he had two points and four rebounds in 16 minutes, continuing to work on handling a larger role. Freshman Zach LeDay led the Bulls with 14 points off the bench.