CINCINNATI — USF kept several streaks alive Wednesday night.
All were bad.
The Bulls, who for most of the season have been just good enough not to get blown out, were just that again Wednesday night. They lost 74-66 to No. 25 Cincinnati in front of 6,201 at Fifth Third Arena.
It was USF's seventh straight loss, its sixth straight Big East loss and its sixth straight road loss. All 12 of the Bulls' losses this season have come by single digits. They haven't lost by double digits since last year's 69-49 Big East Tournament loss to Georgetown. That's little comfort to a team stranded in last place.
"Nobody likes losing; it's frustrating," sophomore guard Jawanza Poland said. "We just have to stop giving games away at the end. We're playing good, just not good enough. We've just got to keep getting better."
USF trailed the entire second half. It cut its deficit to 62-56 with four minutes remaining and got an open 3-point look from Shaun Noriega. But the sophomore guard's shot was off, resulting in a run-out for Cincinnati guard Dion Dixon, who converted a layup to stretch the lead to eight. The Bulls never seriously challenged again.
The Bulls, who entered the game averaging 16.4 turnovers, finished with 18.
"We could have handled the pressure a lot better," Poland said. "But once again, I feel like it wasn't so much their pressure. It was more us just making stupid plays and turning the ball over."
USF led by as many as six points in the first half. Augustus Gilchrist's spin and jump hook with 6:09 left in the half gave the Bulls a 25-19 advantage.
But the Bearcats responded with a 14-2 run, keyed by back-to-back 3-pointers from Cashmere Wright and Sean Kilpatrick. Dixon punctuated the rally with a steal and layup to put Cincinnati ahead 33-27.
"We went through a little bit of a drought there and they took advantage," USF coach Stan Heath said. "We have some challenges and some areas where we're not as strong as we'd like to be."
Ron Anderson Jr. led the Bulls with 13 points and seven rebounds off the bench. Gilchrist, facing double teams, chipped in with 11 points. Cincinnati had four players in double figures.
The Bulls (6-12, 0-5), who have played four straight teams ranked in the Associated Press and/or coaches' poll, are now one loss shy of their total from last season. Their last victory was a Dec. 15 home win over Auburn.
USF plays host to Providence on Sunday.