USF men stun Memphis to end 8-game skid

The Bulls built a 22-point halftime lead and never relented.
Published March 2, 2018|Updated March 2, 2018

Say this for the struggling USF men: They're unbeaten in college basketball's most critical month.

Exactly one week before opening play in the American Athletic Conference tournament in Orlando, the Bulls (9-21, 2-15) built a 22-point first-half lead at Memphis en route to a 75-51 upset before an announced FedExForum crowd of 5,945.

The victory ended an eight-game skid for the Bulls, who can clinch double-digit wins for the first time since 2014 with a victory at home Sunday against SMU. Their last previous triumph in Memphis was a one-point win on Jan. 18, 2003.

The 24-point victory margin was USF's largest in an AAC contest since a 74-45 romp of UCF on March 4, 2015. Memphis (18-12, 9-8), playing without point guard and top scorer Jeremiah Martin (broken foot), had its four-game win streak snapped.

"When we're in this process that we're in, the improvement and the results are never a straight line; they're always up and down," Bulls coach Brian Gregory told ESPN.

"And give our guys credit. They've been resilient, they've stuck together, they kept working. Two really good days of practice gives you the best chance to play well, and that's exactly what we did."

Bulls graduate transfer Payton Banks scored 15 of his 19 points in the first half, when USF shot 50 percent (8-of-16) from 3-point range and built a 45-23 lead. Memphis committed 10 first-half turnovers as the Bulls employed an assortment of defensive looks.

USF finished with a 38-27 rebounding advantage and got 29 points from its bench. Redshirt junior big men Isaiah Manderson (10 points, 11 rebounds) and Malik Martin (19 points, nine boards) led the Bulls reserves.