Bulls suffer first home defeat

The only thing louder than South Florida’s shots clanking off the rim was coach Seth Greenberg screaming for improvement in a loss Wednesday night.

The Bulls lost their first Conference USA matchup and their first home game of the season behind a lackluster 79-69 performance.

“I’m just disgusted,” USF coach Seth Greenberg said. “We had some guys that just didn’t play. They played but didn’t get anything done.”

USF (7-5) tied a season high with 22 turnovers, including 13 in the first half.

“Everything wasn’t going right,” senior Will McDonald said. “We just weren’t playing as hard as we could.”

Before the game, Greenberg said all C-USA games would be a grind. USF’s matchup with the Blazers looked more like a mad scramble with the ball bouncing everywhere.

Marlyn Bryant threw a pass out of bounds three feet away from Terrence Leather, leading to a timeout with a little under 16 minutes left in the game. During the timeout, hecklers could be heard describing the game.

“Hey ref, have you ever seen a game this sloppy?” the fan asked to a reply of a large grin.

There were plays such as Kohn throwing a ball in bounds to Will McDonald that sailed above his 6-foot-11 body and back out of bounds, and there were others like the wrong players for UAB shooting free throws.

“It’s hard to say, ‘I know we’re better than this’ because we say that every time we lose,” McDonald said. “We just have to start doing it.”

USF wasn’t in the game from the start with a first half consisting of bad plays, such as two travel calls, a double-dribble call and an air ball on a free-throw attempt.

With the contest tied at 29 at the break, USF still looked like a team that could post a comeback. However, they opened the half with more sloppy play.

Both teams exchanged turnovers at the start of the second half, with Jimmy Baxter fouling Demario Eddins on a layup for a three-point play.

The Bulls could not find the basket all game, connecting on only 38 percent of their shots compared to 46.9 for the Blazers.USF was worse from behind the arc, making only 22.2 percent and shooting 0-of-8 in the first half.

Most of the Bulls’ shooting woes came against the Blazers’ zone when they could not find the open man.

“No. 2 on our priority list is to play purposefully, and purposefully to me is if you are playing against the zone ball fake … move to the open area,” Greenberg said. “It’s stuff we are working on every day.

“It’s gut-wrenching to think that we played after three days (off practicing) grinding it out.”

UAB’s three-point percentage fared much better than its C-USA counterpart, with senior guard Morris Finley finding the bottom of the net 6-of-7 times from three.

“My teammates did a good job of finding me,” Finley said. “I just tried to keep moving, and my teammates did a great job of getting me the ball in key spots.”

Finley finished the game with 28 points in 28 minutes.

“I think he found some stuff in transition, and he’s a good shooter and made his shot,” Kohn said. “I think he got a lot of stuff off of fast breaks.”

The Bulls were able to put up some numbers, having three players post double figures. McDonald scored a team-high 23 points, and Leather scored 18 along with a game-high 13 rebounds.

“We had some guys get stats, but they didn’t play well,” Greenberg said. “We had some guys that just didn’t show up.”