Hoops notes: Bulls get to line, and win column
Study the play-by-play from USF's game Saturday at Houston, and one notorious Bulls trend is glaring by its absence.
For one of the few times during this forlorn season, the Bulls suffered no scoring drought. Today, no winning drought exists either.
Three days after going 4-for-11 from the free-throw line in a home loss to UCF, the shorthanded Bulls (4-17, 1-7 AAC) went 26-for-32 in Saturday's 71-62 road upset of Houston. The 32 attempts, in fact, were a season-high.
The way Coach Orlando Antigua saw it, that blend of frequency and proficiency was every bit as critical as USF's rebounding dominance (43-27) and poise against Houston's full-court pressure.
"The Houston game we were able to make a couple of shots, and we rebounded the ball extremely well, which we have been doing as well," Antigua said.
"But we got to the free-throw line, and we avoided the four-, five-, six-minute period in the game where we couldn't get a basket by going to the free-throw line. That's something I hope we've got to continue to build off of."
Should they continue drawing whistles, either via dribble penetration or steadily getting the ball inside, a mini-surge seems conceivable.
USF hasn't trailed by 20 in any of its eight conference games. While it has led at halftime only once in AAC play -- on Saturday -- it has been tied or trailed by three or fewer points at the half in five others.
"We were close in every game," Antigua said. "We were one, two possessions away, and one of the differences in looking back and reflecting on the Houston game and those previous games was, we got to the free-throw line and we made free throws."
FRESHMEN HONORED: In case you missed the news from earlier Monday, here's the link to our story on PG Jahmal McMurray and SG Kitija Laksa, honored as the AAC's Rookie of the Week (men's) and Freshman of the Week (women's), respectively.
McMurray, who has played 79 of a possible 80 minutes in USF's last two games, is tied with Temple's Josh Brown for the league lead in average minutes (35.1).
PERRY STILL OUT: Antigua said Monday PF Chris Perry likely will remain suspended for Wednesday's game at Tulane. Perry's indefinite suspension stems from an unspecified violation of team rules.
PF Luis Santos, who fell ill shortly before Saturday's tip-off and returned to the team hotel, is expected to play at Tulane, Antigua added.
WOMEN DROP IN POLL: In the wake of Wednesday's 88-87 overtime loss at unranked Memphis, the Bulls women (13-5) fell five spots -- to 20th -- in the latest AP poll released Monday afternoon.
At worst, look for the Bulls to hold steady at that spot for at least a week. Their next three opponents -- Houston, SMU and Cincinnati -- have a combined record of 18-36