The USF men’s basketball team saw its three-game winning streak come to an end Wednesday, when it left the friendly confines of the Sun Dome.
The Bulls were defeated 85-67 by UAB in a game that was similar to the first matchup played in Tampa Jan. 8.
Wednesday, the Bulls were behind 34-32 in the first half before a Blazers-dominated second half in which they outscored the Bulls 51-35.
“We just hit the wall,” USF coach Seth Greenberg said. “We didn’t defend. We didn’t get stops. We didn’t take care of the ball the whole game.”
Earlier in the season, UAB and USF were tied at 29 in the first half before the Blazers pulled away for a 79-69 victory.
UAB’s Morris Finley, who torched the Bulls for 28 points during the last meeting, was held to six points.
USF finished one turnover shy of its season high, achieved against UAB the first time, by giving the ball away 21 times.
“It was pitiful,” Greenberg said. “We weren’t strong with the ball, and we weren’t tough with the ball. I said all along, ‘(When you) go on the road, you have to take care of the ball, rebound and defend.'”
While the Bulls were able to shut down Finley on the offensive end of the court, the UAB guard was able to contain USF defensively, stealing the ball four times.
UAB, as a team, stole the ball 13 times, holding USF to 42.1 percent shooting.
The Blazers’ defense held Will McDonald, USF’s point’s leader with 16.7 per game, to eight points, giving him only his second single-digit scoring performance of the season in his 18 minutes of play.
“He got in foul trouble in the second half and he wasn’t playing well,” Greenberg said.
Freshman Yusuf Baker led the Bulls in scoring, tallying 13 points while grabbing seven rebounds and blocking three shots.
The Bulls, who since the last game against UAB have been playing primarily a zone defense, played both zone and man-to-man, forcing only nine turnovers and stealing the ball five times.
“We didn’t guard with any sense of urgency,” Greenberg said. “Whatever zone you play, you have to have urgency.”