South Florida’s men’s basketball was out-manned and out-gunned in its 96-63 loss to No. 24 Marquette.
The Bulls were already in the hole before the game, with only 10 people available to play. Freshman Sheldon Franklin has yet to play for the Bulls (7-6, 0-2 in C-USA) because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament, and Sam Barber saw limited minutes before suffering a stress fracture in his foot.
Senior Greg Brittian is serving a season-long suspension for academic fraud after his appeal was upheld by the NCAA.
The number of people available for the Bulls further decreased when Jimmy Baxter, the team’s second-leading scorer with 13.2 points per game, was suspended due to conduct detrimental to the team.
However, Baxter’s suspension didn’t keep him from appearing in the matchup after several Bulls had to leave the game.
Ten minutes and nine seconds into the game, USF suffered its first injury of the contest when Marlyn Bryant landed awkwardly on a drive to the hoop, suffering a possible torn medial cruciate ligament.
Bryant will undergo an MRI today to determine the severity of his injury, which could keep him out three to six weeks.
“He was (writhing) in pain,” USF coach Seth Greenberg said. “He just landed on it funny. He drove in and he got bumped and landed on the side of his foot.”
The situation became worse for the Bulls when freshman Yusuf Baker rolled his ankle and sophomore Brandon Brigman, senior Will McDonald and freshman Danny Oglesby fouled out.
“I thought we would end up with four,” Greenberg said. “I thought it was going to be Hoosiers all over again.”
Seven players for the Bulls saw action in double-digit minutes.Baker had his first career start, playing nine minutes, while tallying four points, two rebounds and one block.
After suffering a torn ACL prior to the season, Baker is used to rehabilitation and does not show signs of swelling as much as other people.
“(He) has three rehab sessions tomorrow,” Greenberg said. “I’m hoping to get him back Tuesday.”
Baxter’s absence from the lineup allowed Baker’s start and shifted sophomore Terrence Leather from the power forward to small forward position.
“(There are) only a couple things we could execute with Terrence at small forward,” Greenberg said. “We couldn’t make a shot, and our inability to score led to their ability to be effective.”
USF connected on only 29.9 percent of its shots and allowed the Golden Eagles (10-3, 2-1) to out-rebound them 38-27.
Marquette grabbed the majority of its boards on the defensive end, tallying 25 rebounds compared to 12 for the Bulls.
The lack of available players for USF allowed junior Gerrick Morris to play 20 minutes, posting two blocks and four rebounds.
Morris was the Bulls’ starting power forward to open the season and was replaced by Leather after severely bruising his foot.
“Gerrick did a little better. He blocked some shots and did some good things,” Greenberg said. “He has to be more assertive offensively and rebound better.”
Preseason All-American and Conference USA Player of the Year Dwyane Wade scored 21 points and had three steals for the Golden Eagles.
USF’s top scorer with 17.1 points per game, Will McDonald was held to 10 points and two rebounds in 27 minutes.
“Will didn’t play at the level he was playing at,” Greenberg said.
The Bulls did have a bright spot amid the mix of all the personal fouls and injuries in senior point guard Reggie Kohn’s five assists.
Kohn became USF’s all-time career leader in assists with 537, passing Radenko Dobras who had 534 from 1988-92.
Despite the disappointing score and statistics of USF’s first C-USA road game, Greenberg took the loss in stride.
“What we are trying to do is put a priority on playing hard, playing together and developing a trust,” Greenberg said. “Winning and losing takes care of itself. We played hard to the bitter end (Saturday).”
Bryan Fazio covers USF men’s basketball and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org