Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

USF Bulls basketball loses second straight on road to a Conference USA team

ORLANDO — Instead of trying to make amends for this latest loss, USF is hoping for a fresh start.

The Bulls get a six-day break before their next game and in that time will welcome a pair of players they hope can make an immediate impact.

Any boost is welcome after back-to-back road losses to Conference USA teams, the latest Saturday night, 71-63 at UCF. The Bulls also suffered a 78-77 overtime loss at Alabama-Birmingham last week.

"We have really struggled at the end of games, especially on the road," Bulls coach Stan Heath said. "Our lack of depth and just being able to finish has been a problem for us."

The additions of transfers Mike Mercer (Georgia) and Gus Gilchrist (Maryland), who had to sit the first semester because of NCAA transfer rules, will add depth and should spark competition for playing time.

"There's no starters right now," Bulls sophomore Dominique Jones said. "Everyone has to start from Day 1."

The Bulls (3-3) trailed most of the second half in a game in which they committed a season-high 21 turnovers. They cut the deficit to 61-60 after back-to-back 3-pointers by Jesus Verdejo, the second with 4:24 left. USF went on a scoring drought for the next 4:05 while the Knights (4-3) pushed the lead to 10 with the raucous crowd driving them.

Guard Jermaine Taylor had 30 points and forward Tony Davis 17 in the Knights' first win against the Bulls since 89-85 in overtime Feb. 7, 1994. That snapped USF's nine-game winning streak in the series, though it still leads all-time 18-5.

"Our guys did a tremendous job of competing and fighting hard against a good South Florida team," UCF coach Kirk Speraw said. "Those guards are very good. They are hard to defend."

The Bulls lost control after leading by nine in the first half.

The Knights went on a 14-0 run that gave them a 31-28 lead with 18:58 left in the game. There was a huge momentum shift when the Knights junior Drew Speraw, the coach's son, drilled his only shot, a 3-pointer, with two seconds left before halftime.

"Up by nine we weren't able to maintain that or stretch that," Heath said. "Once they got the momentum, playing catchup was very difficult for our team."

Some good news was the play of Jones, who matched his career high with 31 points.

"I was in a slump," Jones said. "I think I'm back to where I was. I think I've got my confidence."

Izzy Gould can be reached at or (727) 580-5315.

UCF 71

USF 63

USF Bulls basketball loses second straight on road to a Conference USA team 12/06/08 [Last modified: Monday, December 8, 2008 11:47am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. U.S. repeats as Solheim Cup champion


    WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Lexi Thompson set the tone by rallying from four holes down. The rest of the Americans took it from there and restored their dominance in the Solheim Cup

    Lexi Thompson, left, comes back from four holes down to halve the day’s first singles match with Europe’s Anna Nordqvist to set the tone for the United States.
  2. Rays see the Blake Snell they've been waiting for in win over Mariners

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was a one-run game Sunday when the Mariners' Robinson Cano singled with one out in the seventh inning, bringing the dangerous Nelson Cruz to the plate.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) throwing in the third inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017.
  3. Bucs journal: Demar Dotson (mild groin strain) expected back for opener


    TAMPA — The Bucs got good news Sunday on starting right tackle Demar Dotson, whose MRI exam showed only a mild right groin sprain and who should be back at practice next week.

    Tackle Demar Dotson has only a mild groin strain.
  4. Bucs counting on better health creating better pass rush


    TAMPA — Ask Bucs coaches about the improved depth and health of their defensive line, and they'll look around for a piece of wood to knock on.

    Retired All-Pro defensive end  Simeon Rice, right, the last Buc to have double-digit sacks in a season,  works with defensive end Ryan Russell, who last season was promoted from the practice squad for the second half of the year as injuries piled up. He is competing for a backup job this year.
  5. Rays journal: Jake Faria heads to DL with left abdominal strain

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Jacob Faria made the trek he didn't want to take after his last start. It was to the trainer's room. The pain in his left abdominal went from nagging to an issue during his start that night in Toronto.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jacob Faria (34) throwing in the first inning of the game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 4, 2017.