Just one road game into the 2003-04 season and Robert McCullum’s USF men’s basketball team has already tied their total road victories from a year ago.
The Bulls (2-0) defeated Valparaiso 64-62 Tuesday night in Indiana for their first road victory of the season.
“We were all aware of that, but until we win two games, we will not have exceeded last year,” McCullum said. “It’s going to do wonders for our confidence. It sends a message that we can win on the road, and we beat quality teams on the road.”
The Bulls picked up the win against a team considered one of the tougher teams on their schedule. The Crusaders have a No. 42 RPI ranking and have reached the NCAA Tournament eight of the past nine years.
“To come in here and win speaks volumes for how far our team has grown up,” McCullum said.
The victory, however, didn’t come easy and came down to two possessions dominated by newcomer junior Bradley Mosley.
The Daytona Beach Community College transfer started his second consecutive game for the Bulls and tallied 14 points and four assists in 25 minutes.
“What Mosley is showing is he is a guy who can score for us,” McCullum said.
With the score tied at 60, Mosley drove the floor and put in a layup to give the Bulls a 62-60 lead. Once again, after the game was tied at 62, Mosley took it to the hoop again and lifted the Bulls for the win.
“Coach set up play for me, and he told me to take it and take it all the way to the hoop,” Mosley said during a post game radio interview. “And that’s what I did, and I made it.”
Mosley’s big scoring performance came just when the Bulls needed it most and compensated for the lack of scoring by the squad’s usual go-to performer.
Senior Jimmy Baxter, who was No. 2 on the Bulls in scoring a season ago, was held scoreless for the first time since March 7, 2002 when USF faced Cincinnati.
McCullum said Baxter’s lack of scoring production was a result of both an off night and the Crusaders trying to shut down the Bulls’ known scoring threat.
“He had a number of opportunities,” McCullum said. “He missed two free throws earlier, and then missed two more. I can’t imagine he will be held scoreless more.
“Again, he’ll bounce back and be ready to play Saturday night (against Wright State).”
While Baxter was scoreless, the Bulls did what was needed in order to get the victory; find people to lead. Mosley was the main player who answered that need.
“We expect Bradley will be a go-to guy,” McCullum said. “Baxter will be the guy this year. It was one game; he’ll still be the guy to score baskets for us. The beauty of it all is we have a number of guys.”
Also stepping up for the Bulls was junior Terrence Leather, who had the second highest scoring tally for USF, recording 10 points and 10 rebounds.
“Terrence Leather played well down the stretch,” McCullum said. “When you have a win like this, so many players stepped up and made plays.”
As well as Baxter being stifled by the Crusaders, another player expected to be there for the Bulls this season, senior center Gerrick Morris, had an off night.
Morris grabbed only one rebound and recorded one block while scoring nine points before fouling out.
In his absence, junior Brandon Brigman stepped in. Brigman, who didn’t play during the Bulls’ opener against Florida Atlantic due to academic reasons, scored eight points and grabbed five rebounds in 18 minutes.
“I expected him to play, but we knew he was capable of doing what he did tonight,” McCullum said. “I was really, really proud of Brandon. He came in and gave us, in 18 minutes of play, some really quality minutes.”