Da Silva shines in Bulls' exhibition triumph
Following a turbulent seven-month stretch that included the dismissal of two starters and resignation of a top assistant amid an NCAA probe, USF finally got a chance Monday to shift its focus to the court.
And for one night at least, Tulio Da Silva helped the Bulls make the most of it.
In his collegiate debut, the 6-foot-7 redshirt freshman finished with a game-high 26 points and 16 rebounds as USF pulled away in the closing minutes to defeat Division II Nova Southeastern 72-64 in an exhibition at the Sun Dome.
"He's only starting to scratch the surface of what he's going to be capable of," USF coach Orlando Antigua said of Da Silva, once a four-star recruit who sat out all of last season for academics.
"We've got some things that he's gotta tighten up ... but really happy and excited that he's part of our university and our program."
Da Silva shined with his athleticism, bringing the announced crowd of 2,273 to its feet several times with highlight-reel dunks, including an alley-oop jam from newcomer Michael Bibby in the second half.
The Bulls shot 46 percent and never trailed after taking the lead four minutes in, building a 19-point first-half advantage shortly before halftime.
Redshirt sophomore Troy Holston Jr., making his return after missing last season with a torn ACL, finished with 15 points. Bibby, a true freshman, added 12.
Penn State transfer Geno Thorpe was held out of the game, Antigua said, as a "coach's decision." He is expected to be available Friday when USF hosts Florida A&M at 7 to open the regular season.
"They gutted it out and that was good to see," Antigua said. "There's a lot we're going to be able to utilize here these next couple days to teach -- to get better."