TAMPA — After countless abysmal evenings of huffing and puffing during the Orlando Antigua era, USF fans seemed poised to breathe much easier Monday night at the Sun Dome.
Instead the Bulls left them gasping until the final horn.
One of the most efficient halves of Antigua's two-plus seasons nearly was offset by one of the most forgettable as the Bulls held off Kennesaw State 71-69 before an announced audience of 2,196.
USF (3-2) went 18-of-25 from the floor (72 percent) before intermission, hitting 6 of 8 3-pointers en route to a 48-27 lead. But less than four minutes into the second half, the Owls (2-5) had cut their deficit to eight, and had a chance to win at the buzzer when guard Kyle Clarke's 30-footer bounced off the back of the rim.
USF didn't convert an outside shot in the second half, finishing 6-of-18 from the floor, committing 10 turnovers and managing only three assists in that span.
"With a young team you have to learn how to continue to compete and not look at the score when you have a lead like that, because you know teams are gonna make adjustments," Antigua said. "I think now they'll listen a little bit."
The last of USF's six second-half field goals came on a driving layup by guard Geno Thorpe, who drew a foul on the play and hit the ensuing free throw to give USF a 68-64 lead with 1:02 remaining. Thorpe added two more free throws with 25.1 seconds to go to keep the lead at four, 70-66.
But the Bulls hit only one of their last four free throws to give Kennesaw a chance at the end. Redshirt freshman Tulio Da Silva led USF with 17 points, while guard Troy Holston Jr. finished with 13, going 4-of-4 from long range in the first half.
Nick Masterson had 20 for Kennesaw State, including the last of three consecutive 3-pointers during a 9-0 run that cut the Owls' deficit to 63-60 with 3:37 to go.
"We came out (in the second half) a little undisciplined," Holston said. "Personally myself, I allowed (Masterson) to make shots, get him open. I was jumping off my feet, not staying disciplined."
NO. 1 KENTUCKY 115, ARIZONA ST. 69: Freshman De'Aaron Fox posted the second triple double in school history with 14 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists as the Wildcats (7-0) rolled in Paradise Island, Bahamas.
In 1988, Chris Mills had 19 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists against Austin Peay.
Fellow rookie Malik Monk scored 23 points for the Wildcats, who dominated an undersized team and quickly turned the game into a romping display of their athleticism and ability to run in transition.
Kentucky led by double figures roughly six minutes in, led 58-30 by halftime then scored the first 12 points after the break to go up 40 with 15 minutes left.
"My question now when I go back will be: how now do we take this to another level?" UK coach John Calipari asked.
Sam Cunliffe scored 14 points for the Sun Devils, who shot just 34 percent while the Wildcats scored 21 points off turnovers.
"As a competitor you feel a little shell-shocked in these moments," Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley said. "I would've hoped we would've performed a little better. ... I thought they were spectacular." The game, billed as the Atlantis Showcase, was played at the same ballroom-turned-arena that hosted last week's Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas.
FSU 75, MINNESOTA 67: Jonathan Isaac got his second double double of the season (14 points, 13 rebounds) and Dwayne Bacon scored 18 points as host Seminoles (6-1) beat the Golden Gophers (6-1) in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
The Seminoles shot just 34.6 percent from the field in the first half and trailed 33-31 at halftime. They opened the second half by making six of their first eight as part of a 15-5 run over the first five minutes to give them the lead for good. Bacon, who scored 14 points in the second half, had seven points during the run. FSU was 14 of 28 from the field and led by as many as 19 in the second half.
"In the first half we played their game which was going down slow and not pushing it up the floor," Bacon said. "In the second half we just adjusted to play faster, to get stops and move around."
Michael Ojo added 12 points as the Seminoles had a 40-18 advantage in points in the paint.
"I was proud of those guys," FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. "Dwayne's shot selection was excellent and allowed pace to come to him. Jonathan asserted himself in the second half, especially getting rebounds."
Akeem Springs and Nate Mason led the Golden Gophers with 11 points.
MEN'S POLL: At No. 24, Florida achieved its first top 25 ranking since November of 2014, when it was No. 18. Kentucky and Villanova remain the top two, while Baylor made the week's biggest jump, from No. 20 to ninth.
WOMEN'S POLL: Notre Dame and UConn remain the top two, while Colorado, Auburn and Texas A&M entered the Top 25 for the first time this season.
HARBAUGH REPRIMANDED: Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh's postgame rant on the officiating after a loss to Ohio State on Saturday drew a public reprimand from the Big Ten and $10,000 institutional fine for the school. The conference said Harbaugh violated its sportsmanship policy. "Coaches are teachers as well, and there is an expectation that they set the example for students and others in the area of sportsmanship," the Big Ten said in its statement.
BAYLOR: Jim Grobe, who has been the acting coach to help the Bears get through a tumultuous season, said he does not want the full-time job.
Information from Times wires was used in this report. Contact Joey Knight at [email protected] Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.