The only thing missing from USF’s game against TCU Saturday was the baton.
In what seemed more like a track meet than a basketball game, the Bulls sprinted to a comfortable halftime lead and outdistanced the Horned Frogs 117-108 before 4,532 spectators at the Sun Dome in USF’s Conference USA opener.
“(TCU was) like one of those defenses you play when it’s really an offense,” Reggie Kohn said. “They just want to go to the other end and play.”
Despite TCU’s fondness for running and gunning, six Bulls scored in double figures as USF (10-3, 1-0 in C-USA) tied the Sun Dome record for most points in a game, narrowly missing the school mark (120 vs. Central Florida in 1975). Coach Seth Greenberg said it was the type of game he expected from a Billy Tubbs-coached team.
“It was exactly what I expected,” Greenberg said. “Unfortunately, our goal was to hold them to 70 and we almost didn’t do that in the second half.”
Since Tubbs took over the TCU program in 1994, the Horned Frogs were 58-1 when they scored 100 or more points coming into Saturday’s game. TCU cracked the century mark, but were unable to slow down B.B. Waldon and the Bulls’ offense. Waldon was magnificent, setting a career high with 37 points on a blistering 17-of-25 from the floor.
“A lot of my baskets came from being underneath the basket and finding the spot in their zone,” Waldon said.
The Horned Frogs tried multiple defensive sets to contain Waldon, but the senior power forward found loopholes in all of them. During one stretch to end the first half and start the second, Waldon scored 11 consecutive points for the Bulls.
“B.B.’s a very, very smart basketball player and he really has a good feel for finding open spots,” Greenberg said.
But much of Waldon’s success could be attributed to the strong play of point guards Kohn and freshman Brian Swift. Despite being hampered by a stress fracture in his left leg, Kohn managed to dish out a career-high 14 assists, many coming on nifty, no-look passes.
“As good as B.B. was, if Reggie wasn’t good or Brian wasn’t good, then it’s negated,” Greenberg said. “B.B. was the best he’s been in finishing, catching and being in the right place and making plays.”
With about 10 minutes remaining in the first half, the Bulls went on a crippling 18-0 run to break a 29-29 game wide open. Mike Bernard broke the tie with a short jumper, and Altron Jackson capped the stretch with a tip-in to put the Bulls ahead 47-29.
The Horned Frogs then cut the deficit to 52-42 minutes later, but USF went on a 10-0 run just before the end of the first half to stretch the lead back to 64-47 at the break. Waldon said the Bulls exploited the Horned Frogs’ shoot first, defend second philosophy. “We saw (their defense) on video, but we didn’t know it was that soft,” he said. “And we took advantage of it.”
The USF lead hovered around 15 throughout most of the second half, with the only drama being when the Bulls would reach the 100-point plateau and if they would eclipse the school mark for most points in a game.
Although Jackson did not start, he grabbed a team-high 12 rebounds and scored 14 points. Greenberg said Jackson was not in the lineup for the tip-off because “his attitude has not been good.” Centers Will McDonald and Bernard contributed 14 and 12 points respectively, while Jimmy Baxter and freshman Marlyn Bryant chipped in 11 each.