It wasn’t quite as exciting as last Tuesday’s double-overtime game, but then again it wasn’t as disheartening since this Tuesday’s game was a win.
The men’s basketball team ran away on Stetson 77-52 on the strength of outstanding play by center Solomon Jones, guard James Holmes and forward Melvin Buckley.
Buckley scored 17 of his 19 points in the first half, but Jones returned in the second to score 10 points, while Holmes was a potent threat shooting beyond the arc.
The Bulls (4-2), who have played their last four games on the road, were sparked on a defense by Jones and freshman McHugh Mattis, who combined for 12 blocks, as the two ended up fighting for defensive plays.
“We always joke at practice about it every day,” Jones said on 620 WDAE’s postgame show. “We joke about, well, who’s going to lead the team in blocks and that’s what we try to do on the court: Just keep jumping. So we’ve got ourselves a little competition out there.”
McCullum, however, feels that even if it was a competition, Jones would win.
“I don’t see it so much as competition, because when it’s all said and done, Solomon Jones is going to have more blocked shots,” McCullum said. “He’s taller; he’s got real long arms. Defensively, he’s going to be something that’s going to have to be reckoned with.”
The 6-foot-10 Jones finished the game with 15 points and six blocks, while Holmes seems to have continued success against Stetson.
Last season on Nov. 26, 2004, Holmes scored a career-high 24 points and shot 9-for-11 for field goals and 6-for-8 from three-point range. Tuesday, the senior scored a team-high 21 points, shooting 5-for-7 from three-point range and 8-for-15 for field goals. He also tied a career high in assists with four.
“I don’t know if it’s Stetson or if it’s more of coincidence,” McCullum said. “Obviously, he had a good performance against them last year, as well as against Georgia Southern on Saturday, which means he’s going to play each game with more and more confidence. He’s just going to get better. Look at his shots, and he is getting that.
“He’s showing more leadership, which is very important.”
Starting the second half at 41-23, the Hatters (0-7) went on a 13-2 run in the first five minutes after halftime, but then the Bulls took over and stretched the lead out to at least 10 points for the rest of the game.On the four-game road trip in which USF went 2-2, the Bulls saw many firsts, such as freshmen Frane Markusovic and Zaronn Cann seeing his first action and scoring his first career point, respectively.
McCullum felt the trip could’ve turned out better, however.
“You’d like to win all of them,” McCullum said. “We were hoping to take at least three of the four. I thought it was doable. But I was glad to see us bounce back against Texas A&M Corpus Christi, especially after a second half where we played as bad a second half as you can imagine.
“I think it’s a sign of the team really growing up.”