Bulls pull away, beat Spartans 79-64
TAMPA -- USF never trailed, led by 21 points with five minutes to play and beat the University of Tampa 79-64 in an exhibition Monday night, but Bulls guard Chris Howard wasn't pleased with his team's performance.
"My teammates might take it as a challenge, (but) I just didn't think we got after it tonight," he said. "We didn't play as if it was a Big East game, a Marquette or a UConn. We have to learn how to do that, to go into every game with the mindset that we're going to play at a certain level."
USF, playing its cross-town rival for the first time in 19 years, allowed the Division II Spartans to stay as close as 55-49 with six minutes to play. An 18-3 run put the game in hand for good.
"We'll take the win, but we know we have a lot of work to do to get ready for Friday," coach Stan Heath said. "We have to fix a lot of holes right now."
Senior guard Jesus Verdejo had a game-high 27 points -- which would be a career-best by seven points if the game counted -- while Howard had 18 points, one off his best as a Bull. Sophomore guard Dominique Jones had 11 assists but scored only eight on 2-for-10 shooting.
USF opens its season Friday against SMU, while UT opens Nov. 18 at home against Puerto Rico-Cayey.