TAMPA ― In the wake of recent consecutive losses, on the court and roster, USF’s men took the Yuengling Center floor Thursday against Wofford and successfully re-launched their season.
With Baseball Hall of Famer John Smoltz watching from a baseline seat, the Bulls (2-2) darn near delivered a complete game of their own, shooting 60 percent from the floor for most of the night in a 69-55 victory.
USF’s nine 3-pointers (in only 20 attempts) were a season-high, while Wofford’s point total was a season-low. The Bulls’ 15 turnovers represented a significant decrease from their losses to Boston College (21) and IUPUI (23).
“This past week we really keyed in on our offensive efficiency, executing, not doing too many extra things on offense, trying to do too much by ourselves,” said junior wing Justin Brown, who scored all 16 of his points in the first half.
“We’ve got a team full of players that can score the ball and pass and play together, so we just had to get back to who we are.”
Brown provided a harbinger for the evening with consecutive 3-pointers to open USF’s scoring. Employing a four-guard starting lineup, the Bulls hit nine of their first 11 shots en route to a lead that grew to 19 before halftime.
Thirty minutes into the game, they still were shooting 60 percent from the floor, finishing 26-for-47 (55.3). Junior David Collins, nursing a sore back, led the Bulls in scoring (18 points) and rebounds (six).
Defensively, USF rebounded by committee (six Bulls had at least three boards), switched effectively on screens and mostly suffocated the Terriers on the perimeter.
Wofford, which came in 21st nationally in 3-point tries, attempted a season-low 19 and made only six (31.6 percent).
“Great response from our guys,” said coach Brian Gregory, forced to re-adjust his lineup and scheme following the losses of forwards Alexis Yetna (knee injury) and Mayan Kiir (left team).
“We’ve got a long way to go. We didn’t get here overnight and we’re not gonna solve it overnight, but we took a good step today.”
Contact Joey Knight at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls