TAMPA — From its two-point home loss against UCF to its victory at Tulane, USF recently had provided its fan base encouragement in spurts.
Similarly, its interior defense against Memphis on Wednesday night also came and went.
With 6-foot-3 Tigers guard Jeremiah Martin facilitating things from the perimeter, Memphis scored at will in the paint en route to an 86-74 triumph before a generously announced Sun Dome crowd of 2,754.
A loss at home Sunday against Tulsa assures the Bulls (8-15, 1-8 American Athletic) of their sixth consecutive losing season in conference play, the past five in the American Athletic.
When Martin (25 points, nine assists) wasn’t creating easy interior baskets for his peers in the post, the Tigers (14-8, 5-4)— who had 15 offensive rebounds — exploited botched USF defensive assignments down low.
By halftime, Memphis had 30 points in the paint to USF’s 12 and finished with a 46-26 scoring advantage inside.
"To be honest, it was just bad miscommunication (inside) and we just needed to play hard," said the Bulls’ Payton Banks, who had 16 points.
"They just played harder than us, point-blank."
Worsening matters were the Bulls’ 17 turnovers, leading to an assortment of Tigers transition baskets. Memphis finished with an 18-6 advantage in fast-break points.
Freshman David Collins led USF with 21 points — hitting 10 of 11 free throws — before fouling out.
"I’m the first person to tell David to keep attacking," Banks said. "He’s the one person that can get in the lane at will on our team."
Contact Joey Knight at [email protected] Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.