Four days ago, Prairie View A&M lost to University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee by 62 points.And before the USF men’s basketball team’s 63-47 win over the Panthers, USF coach Robert McCullum was worried.
“As a coach you’re sort of afraid,” he said, “just because (of) how you think your players are going to perceive your opponent.”
Instead, the Bulls shot 63.6 percent in the second half and led by as many as 23 points as they start the season 2-0.
First-year player Solomon Jones led the Bulls offensively with 18 points.
Jones also pulled down seven rebounds, second only to Terrence Leather, who had nine.
“You have to come in thinking that they just won by 50 points,” Jones said. “A win is a win, no matter how you get it, double digits or single digits or whatever. We just come out and work hard for the win.”
A feisty Bulls defense held Prairie View A&M to a field goal percentage of 32 and with about eight minutes left in the first half, had held the Panthers to four points. The Bulls led at halftime 25-16.
Leather came off the bench for the second consecutive game, and according to McCullum it may continue.
“We’re just kind of experimenting whether it’s better to bring (Leather) off the bench,” McCullum said. “We’ve actually spoken with him about it and he’s even hinted at it and suggested it himself at one point.”
In USF’s season-opening 76-75 win over Stephen F. Austin on Saturday, Leather came off the bench and scored a team-high 20 points. In Tuesday’s victory, the 6-foot-9 senior scored 8.
“I don’t know how (Leather) feels about it now,” McCullum joked. “I’m not so sure he’s so big on it right now. He might not tell you he thought it was a great idea, but initially it was something that we talked about and he thought it was a good idea as well.”
Leather was not available for comment.
Freshman Collin Dennis saw his first action as a Bull on Tuesday and the 6-foot-2 guard made the most of it, scoring 8 points in 21 minutes and connecting on two three-pointers.Dennis, who has been bothered by a hip injury, has not practiced in ten days.
“I was really impressed with the way (Dennis) defended the ball. He is an outstanding on-the-ball defender,” McCullum said. “And he’s still only about 75 percent.”
USF was out rebounded by a smaller Panther team 38-35.
If the Bulls are to compete seriously in conference play, McCullum knows they have to improve on the glass.
“As I’ve said before, rebounding is not a strength of ours,” McCullum said. “It’s an area of concern and was one of the big question marks of this team coming in.”