USF men’s basketball will once again have to wait another game before its first win under interim coach Murry Bartow.
The Bulls’ (6-13, 0-8) losing streak reached a season-high eight games as they suffered another conference loss on Wednesday night, this time falling to the UConn Huskies, 81-60 at the Sun Dome.
Even after remaining winless in 2017, Bartow said the resolve of his team has been something to marvel at.
“When you get beat, if you’re not a little down, then you’re not a very good competitor,” Bartow said. “So, they better be a little down when you put your heart and soul into what you’re trying to do and we get beat, you should be a little down.
“They’re a really resilient group. You could do a case study on what’s happened to them over the last two and a half years and they have every reason to bail. They have every reason to be down and they continue to be up, play with energy, compete and fight. I’ve got to help them more, we’ve got to help them more.”
Facing off against an injury-plagued UConn team without forwards Steven Enoch and Juwan Durham, the Bulls couldn’t use depth to their advantage. The short-handed Huskies (9-11, 4-4) played only six men until the final minute of play, but still managed to dominate down the stretch.
The Bulls fed off the energy of the 3,238 in attendance in the first half, and went into the break down two. With good defense, and efficient ball movement (11 first-half assists), the Bulls appeared to be within reach of their first AAC win.
Despite a tight first 20 minutes, the life was sucked out of the Sun Dome just four minutes into the second half. The Huskies made eight of their 12 3-pointers after halftime to pull away from USF as the crowd fell silent.
Bartow tried to make adjustments on defense, but found no answer to stop the talented Huskies.
“Having a really deep team is really overrated,” Bartow said. “You only need five guys to play, and they have six really phenomenal guys who can play.”
Despite the loss, freshman guard Michael Bibby Jr. played one of his best games as a Bull. He would go on to score 14 points, one shy of his career high, while shooting 4-of-6 from 3-point range.
Former NBA All-Star Mike Bibby Sr. was in the stands to witness his son’s performance at tonight’s game. But despite his father in the stands and a near career-high in scoring, Bibby Jr. was still distressed about his team’s defeat.
“It really means nothing to me if we lose… Nothing really matters to me statistically wise if we lose the game,” Bibby Jr. said.
To make matters worse for the struggling Bulls, forward Isaiah Manderson, who has played in just five games for USF since transferring to the school last year, has been suspended from the team indefinitely for an undisclosed reason.
Bartow said that what happens to him is completely in the hands of athletic director Mark Harlan.
The Bulls, still winless in conference play, look to snap their eight-game losing skid on Sunday when they travel to take on No. 19 Cincinnati.