MEMPHIS — It has gotten to where USF has passed pain and settled into numb. But for Martino Brock, the Bulls' 80-58 blowout loss to 23rd-ranked Memphis on Sunday at FedEx Forum really did hit home.
Brock, a 6-5 senior from Memphis, was USF's lone bright spot, scoring a season-high 17 on 7-of-15 shooting. He added a team-best six rebounds and two assists while playing before 35 friends and family in the crowd of 15,627.
"It could've been 60; had to cut it off. My mom kept inviting friends," said Brock, who didn't start because of recent offensive struggles. "For all the sacrifice and places I went to get my grades right, it's a blessing to come back to play for people who hadn't seen me in years. I wanted to do well, but more than that we wanted to win against a ranked opponent, and …"
Same song, new verse. Since losing junior point guard Anthony Collins to knee troubles USF (10-10) has gone 2-8, and 1-6 in American Athletic Conference play since a New Year's Eve home loss to the Tigers (15-4, 5-2). The past three losses to ranked Cincinnati, Louisville and Memphis have been by an average of 23 points. USF has lost 13 straight over two seasons to ranked teams.
Beyond Brock, USF shot just 13-of-47 (29 percent). Still, the Bulls had the game at the pace they wanted and were within 24-22 on Chris Perry's dunk with 4:15 left in the first half. But USF missed five straight layups, and the Tigers went on a 10-0 half-ending spree and kept the motor running.
"I reminded the guys they like to win off spurts. But they punched and we didn't punch back," Brock said.
After a 1-of-8 start, the Tigers hit nine of their last 12 3-pointers, a season best for a team that like USF struggles outside. Senior Chris Crawford led Memphis with 15 points, all on 3s. Senior Joe Jackson added 14, sophomore Shaq Goodwin dominated inside with 13 points and 10 boards and freshman Nick King added 10. They made a 20-of-35 free-throw performance an afterthought.
"We were so conscious of them inside, we gave them the kinds of looks they don't normally see," Bulls coach Stan Heath said. "And that's a team that when it hits a rhythm is hard to stop."
Junior Corey Allen had nine points for USF. Freshman bigs Perry and John Egbunu shot 3-of-16, while leading scorer Victor Rudd went 2-of-8 and played only two minutes after the break, finishing with six.
"Coach's decision," Heath would only say of the senior's situation, adding, "We're trying to find a lineup that has some consistency. I've challenged Martino, too, telling him he's got to score like this every game. … We're young, and right now we don't handle adversity well."