South Florida's chances of halting its school-record losing streak - now at 15 - were dashed early as the Providence Friars ruled the inside from start to finish and overwhelmed the Bulls 77-56 Tuesday night.
USF (6-20, 0-13), in its first year in the Big East, is still groping for its initial league win, too.
The Bulls had no answer for long-limbed, left-handed, 6-foot-11 center Randall Hanke, who came off the bench and scored a game-high 22 points, including 19 in the first half on 8-of-11 shooting. Providence (12-12, 5-8) also decisively outrebounded the Bulls 47-25 and - mostly due to Hanke - had its reserves outscore them 31-10.
Only James Holmes with a team-high 18 points and Melvin Buckley with 15 had any success against the Friars, and most of that was from the perimeter, combining for eight of the Bulls' nine 3-pointers. For the game, the Bulls shot just 34 percent (19 of 58) and were just 8-of-26 in the first half.
Providence shot 41 percent but hit 7 of 16 3-point attempts and was 22 of 28 from the line.
The Bulls' two big men, Solomon Jones and McHugh Mattis, never got untracked, getting into early foul trouble trying to contain Hanke. Jones, averaging 13.6 points and 9.9 rebounds, had no baskets, three points and just four rebounds in 25 minutes of action. Matthis had 10 points, but most came well after the game was decided.
Jones also didn't start the second half after getting jarred in the mouth. He had to get stitches on his upper lip before resuming play.
"I think you can see that Solomon didn't play at all like he normally does," said USFcoach Robert McCullum. "He had a sore knee and couldn't get any lift, and then he got hit on the lip."
Holmes' torrid 3-point shooting kept the Bulls somewhat close for the first 12 minutes as he connected on four of five attempts for all 12 of his first-half points. Melvyn Richardson's jumper at 8:15 reduced the lead to 25-18, and that was the closest USF would get.
Buckley, likewise, hit three straight long-distance bombs to give the Bulls some hope, paring the score to 49-40 at 13:41.
Then Friars senior guard Donnie McGrath accounted for nine points in an 11-0 run over five minutes, expanding the lead to 60-40. McGrath tallied 14 of his 20 points after halftime as the lead reached as much as 25 before the reserves came in.
"Physically and mentally we're just a beaten group," said McCullum, adding that "even some of the guys we're playing aren't healthy. But that doesn't mean we're going to quit. The challenge is still to play as well as you can."