1. Sports

USF’s upset bid falls just short against No. 21 Memphis

The Bulls squander a 14-point second-half lead in a 68-64 loss to the Tigers at Yuengling Center.
USF guard David Collins, left, goes up for a shot against Memphis forward D.J. Jeffries during the second half of the Tigers' 68-64 triumph Sunday at the Yuengling Center. [CHRIS O'MEARA  |  AP]
USF guard David Collins, left, goes up for a shot against Memphis forward D.J. Jeffries during the second half of the Tigers' 68-64 triumph Sunday at the Yuengling Center. [CHRIS O'MEARA | AP]
Published Jan. 13
Updated Jan. 13

TAMPA — Even at the Yuengling Center’s loudest moment Sunday, some of the decibels were spiked with cynicism.

USF fans, after all, knew this script by heart — broken heart. More than once this season, they had seen their team lead a quality foe late in the second half, only to stumble.

And so it was Sunday. On the cusp of their first win against a ranked opponent in nearly eight years, the Bulls crashed into that figurative hump instead of clearing it.

The hosts did not make a field goal in the final 6½ minutes, squandering a 14-point second-half lead in a 68-64 loss to No. 21 Memphis before an announced crowd of 5,209.

“One of the things that’s always the most difficult part of building a program is having guys understand the winning plays that need to be made,” said third-year USF coach Brian Gregory, whose team blew a 10-point lead in a 66-60 loss to No. 10 Florida State last month.

“These guys as sophomores or juniors or seniors, they didn’t come up through this program and (see) guys making those plays.”

Truth be told, neither did their immediate predecessors. Or perhaps the predecessors before that.

USF (8-9, 1-3 American Athletic Conference) has lost 28 in row against ranked opposition, dating to February 2012. But unlike many years in that frustrating drought, the current club at least is putting itself in position to win such games.

Three of the Bulls’ past four defeats to ranked opponents have been by single digits. The 10 losses before that — all by double digits — were by an average margin of 23.8 points.

On Sunday, they forced 22 turnovers against the tremendously talented but tremendously raw Tigers (13-3, 2-1), who started four freshmen. The 18th turnover, a David Collins steal of 6-foot-7 freshman D.J. Jeffries, led to a breakaway dunk by the Bulls junior, giving USF a 51-37 lead with 13:15 to play.

To that point, the Bulls were holding their own on the glass, getting sparkling efforts off the bench from wings Justin Brown (nine points) and Zack Dawson (15), and prospering from another monstrous Collins effort (game-high 24 points, two steals).

“David Collins, man, he’s an unbelievable player,” Memphis coach Penny Hardaway said. “He’s one of the most underrated players in the country.”

But USF managed only one field goal the rest of the way and struggled defensively against Memphis’ long low-post standouts. Six-foot-9 Tigers freshman Precious Achiuwa, a likely future lottery pick, scored 10 of his 22 points in the last 8:21.

“We don’t get discouraged. We’re disappointed we didn’t finish this one,” Gregory said.

“But our guys are really good guys, and they keep coming back to the plate and taking another swing at it. And that’s just something you’ve just got to do. And where we’re at in this process, that’s a great trait to have, and our guys have that.”


  1. Home plate umpire Brian deBrauwere, left, huddles behind Freedom Division catcher James Skelton, of the York Revolution, as the official wears an earpiece during the first inning of the Atlantic League All-Star minor league baseball game, Wednesday, July 10, 2019, in York, Pa. deBrauwere wore the earpiece connected to an iPhone in his ball bag which relayed ball and strike calls upon receiving it from a TrackMan computer system that uses Doppler radar. The independent Atlantic League became the first American professional baseball league to let the computer call balls and strikes during the all star game.
    Commissioner Rob Manfred says it will be used during the Class A Florida State League season.
  2. In this Feb. 7, 2012 file photo New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning holds up the Vince Lombardi Trophy during the team's NFL football Super Bowl parade in New York. Manning, who led the Giants to two Super Bowls in a 16-year career that saw him set almost every team passing record, has retired. The Giants said Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020 that Manning would formally announce his retirement on Friday. [JULIO CORTEZ  |  AP]
    The two-time Super Bowl MVP is calling it quits after 16 seasons.
  3. FILE – In this Monday, Jan. 13, 2020 file photo, the Philadelphia Flyers' mascot, Gritty, performs during an NHL hockey game in Philadelphia. Chris Greenwell has alleged that the mascot punched his 13-year-old son, Brandon, after a photo shoot in November. The Incident is under investigation. [DERIK HAMILTON                        |  AP]
    The Flyers mascot is accused of punching a 13-year-old “as hard as he could.”
  4. Kobe Knox, center, and Tampa Catholic regain the top spot in the rankings thanks to recent wins over Leesburg, Naples and Seffner Christian. [LUIS SANTANA  |  Times]
    Tampa Catholic takes over the top spot again after an impressive showing last week.
  5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston, center, talks with kids while playing games during the fourth annual Dream Forever Foundation Football Camp held last June in Tampa. [SHADD, DIRK  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Winston, who played at Florida State, is from Alabama, where the private historically black liberal arts college is located.
  6. 4 hours ago• Florida State Seminoles
    We'll know a lot about the 2020 Florida State team after their first five games of the season. [MONICA HERNDON  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    FSU could be in for a rocky start to the Mike Norvell era, and why Nov. 7 could be a big day in the state.
  7. Baseball America released its annual list on Wednesday. [Baseball America]
    Wander Franco is No. 1 again, and Brendan McKay No. 14 as Rays lead the way.
  8. Yesterday• Florida State Seminoles
    The Miami Hurricanes mascot Sebastian the Ibis cheers during last season's opener against Florida at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. [MONICA HERNDON  |  Times]
    Manny Diaz’s Hurricanes will host Florida State and potential top-25 North Carolina.
  9. Yesterday• Florida State Seminoles
    Florida State head football coach Mike Norvell speaks at a news conference Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Tallahassee, Fla. Norvell is Florida State’s new coach, taking over a Seminoles program that has struggled while he was helping to build Memphis into a Group of Five power. [PHIL SEARS  |  AP]
    The Mike Norvell era opens in Atlanta against West Virginia and includes trips to Louisville and Miami.
  10. New USF football coach Jeff Scott, right, talks to members of the football team during a meeting at USF last week. Since then, Scott and his staff  have remained on the recruiting trail, landing six new non-binding commitments. [SCOTT KEELER  |  TAMPA BAY TIMES]
    New coach Jeff Scott has received six new commitments since Sunday.