Despite a personal-best game by Laquincy Rideau, USF men’s basketball (12-5, 2-3) dropped its second-straight game, falling 82-74 to Cincinnati (15-3, 4-1) on Tuesday night at Fifth Third Arena in Cincinnati.
Rideau went 9-of-26 from the field, scoring a career-high 26 points. The junior added four assists and three rebounds.
Alexis Yetna (12), David Collins (10) and Michael Durr (10) joined Rideau in double-digit scoring for USF.
The Bulls corrected the free-throw woes that have affected them all season. After shooting 40 percent from the line on Saturday against Temple, USF went 22-of-26 from the free-throw line, including a perfect 8-of-8 in the first half. Individually, Yetna and Rideau were perfect — 6-of-6 each — from the line.
The game itself was a tale of two halves for the Bulls. USF was its own worst enemy in the first half, committing 15 turnovers during the game’s first 20 minutes, directly leading to 19 Bearcat points.
“We didn't get off to a good start in the first half, too many turnovers with 15 in the first half,” coach Brian Gregory said in a statement after the game. “We had only six in the second half and that's why we played better. We were just out of sorts a little bit on offense, settled down in the second half and made our free throws. We rebounded the ball well and foul trouble hurt us.”
After Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin was ejected for arguing with officials over a technical foul call two minutes into the second half, USF went on a 20-9 run to tie the game with 11:52 remaining. The Bulls’ hot start to the second half erased what was a 12-point Cincinnati lead at halftime.
Cincinnati bounced right back, going on a 6-0 run in the ensuing 1:15 after USF tied the game. USF battled back to tie the game with 6:28 remaining, but that would be the final time the game would be even as Cincinnati went on a 17-11 run to end the game.
“When it was tied, I think they went four possessions and all free throws,” Gregory said. “There were a lot of off-ball screens and you've got to be really disciplined off the ball, so you're not grabbing and holding on the cuts. We did a much better job of that in the first half than we did in the second half.”
The Bulls return home for their next game, a matchup with No. 21 Houston on Saturday night at the Yuengling Center. USF has not defeated a ranked opponent at the Yuengling Center since Jan. 31, 2010 and has not defeated one overall since Feb. 29, 2012.