South Florida men’s basketball returns home for a three-game home stand from a once prosperous, then turbulent and tough road trip.
USF was 0-5 on the road before leaving for its game against Memphis Jan. 18.
The Bulls (9-8, 2-4 in Conference USA) broke their losing streak by defeating the Tigers 75-74 in the Pyramid for the first time in USF history.
The team failed to carry the momentum into the next game.
“I think 10 single entities is what we have remaining,” USF coach Seth Greenberg said.
After the historic win, the Bulls’ season took a fall when top scorer and rebounder Will McDonald was arrested for false imprisonment and battery and suspended for the game against East Carolina.
Against the Pirates Saturday, the Bulls lost in double overtime, Greenberg was ejected from the game and the Bulls were dominated on the glass 71-42. ECU’s 71 rebounds were a conference record.
Point guard Reggie Kohn started to show signs of wearing down, shooting 2-of-13.
During USF’s next game, Kohn continued his shooting woes, going 0-of-10.
“Reggie Kohn is going to make shots,” Greenberg said. “It’s one of those things.”
The Bulls’ rebounding started to improve with the return of McDonald, who averages 7.9 rebounds per game and had 12 against the Cougars.
“He played pretty good,” Greenberg said. “He was more active rebounding the ball. He has to rebound the ball every night.”
Against Houston, freshman Yusuf Baker showed signs of improvement, picking up his second double-double of the season by scoring 10 points and adding 10 rebounds.
“He’s really been active on boards and quick around the basket,” Greenberg said. “He’s been using his quickness to rebound.”
Baker was slow getting into the USF rotation because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered during the summer.
“We’ve been on the road a good part of the month of January,” Greenberg said. “We have to bounce back. It’s a long season, and we’ve played four league road games already.”
The Bulls, who are currently No. 4 in the National Division of the C-USA standings, need to stay aboard their whirlwind of a season for their final 10 games to continue to gather some wins. The top 12 teams make the Conference USA Tournament.
Their trek toward the C-USA tournament starts Saturday against the Charlotte 49ers (8-9, 3-3), a team that can score.
The 49ers get most of their 72.5 points per game from Demon Brown, who averages 18.4.
The Bulls’ biggest concern with Brown will be his outside shooting.
He scores 43.6 percent from three-point range with 195 of his shot 435 attempts coming from long range.
“Charlotte can score the ball,” Greenberg said. “Brown takes 11 three-point attempts a game. He can really shoot the ball, and (the 49ers) are extremely athletic and multi-dimensional.”
Oracle Assistant Sports Editor Bryan Fazio covers USF men’s basketball and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org