TAMPA — As if USF wasn't already struggling enough to score points, the Bulls will likely have to do so tonight against Auburn without their top returning scorer, forward Augustus Gilchrist, who is away from the team because of "philosophical differences."
USF coach Stan Heath didn't elaborate much on the 6-foot-10 junior, who didn't travel with the team Sunday for its loss at Kent State and wasn't practicing with the Bulls on Tuesday. Senior center Jarrid Famous, who didn't make the trip to Ohio because of a stomach illness, is practicing and healthy and will play against Auburn, Heath said.
"Gilchrist is uncertain. Hopefully we'll have some resolution soon," Heath said Tuesday. "I would just say philosophical differences. … I think in the last few weeks, we haven't really had a heart-to-heart talk, which hopefully we'll have soon. I'm not planning to have him (against Auburn)."
USF (5-5) is the lowest-scoring team in the Big East by a full seven points a game, struggling to average 61.4 points in its first 10 games. That ranks 301st out of 336 Division I schools and the lowest of any team from the six major conferences.
"We've got to score. We're defending very well, doing a lot of good things out there on the defensive end, but unfortunately, the name of the game is 'Put the Ball in the Basket,' " Heath said. "We're coming up short there. We have to shoot the ball better from the outside; we have to finish better around the basket. We have to draw more fouls. I don't think we're getting to the free-throw line as much as we really need to get there."
With Gilchrist gone Sunday, sophomore guard Jawanza Poland took over the team scoring lead, getting 15 points to raise his average to 10.9. Poland is tied for the team lead with 11 3-pointers and has been the most active dunker, scoring in a variety of ways.
Without Gilchrist, Heath will have three frontcourt players to rotate in with Famous, junior Ron Anderson and sophomore Toarlyn Fitzpatrick, and Heath said small forward Hugh Robertson could take minutes at power forward if necessary.
Gilchrist's statistics are well down from last season. His scoring has dropped from 13.4 to 10.7 points, his 3-point shooting dropped from 48 percent to 30 percent, his free throws from 75 percent to 50 percent.
The Bulls nearly won at Kent State without him, and Heath said if Gilchrist isn't showing an urgency to address whatever issues are keeping him away from the team, he'll concentrate on the players who are ready and willing to contribute.
"He wants some time," Heath said. "We're going to at some point in time get together. My focus is right here on my team, and I'm fine with that."