The seemingly endless search for a win continues for interim coach Murry Bartow, as the Bulls remain winless under his helm.
USF (6-15, 0-10) dropped yet another conference game on Thursday night in front of 2,563 fans at the Sun Dome, falling to the Memphis Tigers (17-6, 7-3), 85-75.
The loss was USF’s tenth straight, preserving their last place record in the AAC.
Freshman Malik Fitts carried the Bulls, recording his first career double-double with a career-high 11 rebounds, 28 points, and one crowd-igniting buzzer beater to end the first half.
That shot at the buzzer brought USF’s deficit to just five going into halftime. A quick basket to start the second period brought the Bulls within three. That, however, would be the closest USF would get for the remainder of the game.
Despite the defeat, Fitts was still satisfied with his personal performance on the court.
“I guess I was pretty much feeling it” Fitts said. “I just felt like I needed to be aggressive with such an important piece being out tonight.”
That important piece was starting guard, and leading scorer, Geno Thorpe. Bartow said it’s been a struggle having to play two games in a row without his head of the backcourt.
“I’m not an excuse maker, but not having Geno on the floor is pretty significant.” Bartow said with a shrug, “It’s tough out there without Geno.”
Thorpe, who’s missed the past two games, is expected to be back on Sunday.
With depth lacking, three freshmen got the start in Thursday night’s matchup – Fitts, Tulio Da Silva, and Michael Bibby. The trio were the only three Bulls to score in double figures, and also the only three to play over 30 minutes.
“We’ve got three good freshmen.” Bartow said. “Mike Bibby has a chance to be good, Malik Fitts has a chance to be good, and I love Tulio. I need to do a better job getting Tulio more touches, and make him more into a star.”
Despite the energy brought by the freshmen trio, the talent of Memphis brothers KJ and Dedric Lawson proved to be too much for the Bulls to contain. The two combined to score 48 points, along with 19 rebounds and 10 assists.
USF’s next chance to secure its first conference win come Sunday, when the Bulls travel to face Temple (12-11, 3-7).