Bulls trample over Hatters

It was a record-breaking game for the USF men’s basketball team and a career game for two of its players.

In their 93-65 victory over Stetson at the Sun Dome on Friday night, the Bulls made 33 of 51 shots on their way to shooting a school-record 64.7 percent from the field.

“When people look at this score they will say they must have shot well and played well, and of course the shooting percentages bear that out,” USF coach Robert McCullum said. “But I really feel the tone was set defensively. I thought we did a great job – the best job yet up to this point in the season – of pressuring the basketball.”

USF (3-0) held Stetson (1-1) to 37.9 percent shooting and led by as many as 31 points in the second half.

Two seniors led USF in its blowout win as the Bulls start 3-0 for the fourth consecutive season. James Holmes shattered his previous high-scoring game of 10 with 24 points on 9 for 11 shooting. The guard also connected on six of eight three-pointers.

“We have felt all along that James was going to kind of have a breakout game as he got healthy,” said McCullum. “The way he shot and played tonight, that’s how he played up at Florida State in our scrimmage a few weeks ago. Another key with James is his shoulder is getting better. This is the best he has felt since prior to hurting his shoulder.”

Forward Terrence Leather was perfect from the field, making 9 of 9 shot attempts and scoring 21 points.

As a team, USF made 12 of 23 three-point attempts and shot a season-best 78.9 percent from the free-throw line.

After scoring eight points in his collegiate debut in the Bulls’ win over Prairie View A&M on Tuesday, freshman Collin Dennis scored 10 points and hit two three-pointers. Senior guard Brian Swift scored 15 for the Bulls, who will face Bethune-Cookman Monday in Lakeland.

Friday’s game marks the most points scored by the Bulls since McCullum joined the team.

After a 3-0 start in 2003-04, the Bulls went on to drop 20 of their last 24. McCullum, though, has reason to be optimistic.

“We have better chemistry than we had at this point last season. We shoot the basketball better than we did and I think we have a much better understanding of what it takes to succeed at this level. That’s not to say our chemistry is as good as we would like for it to be or as good as it needs to be, but yet it’s certainly ahead of where we were (a year ago at this time).”