USF loses fourteenth straight Big East road contest

The men’s basketball team found itself in a dishearteningly familiar position against Louisville on Saturday.

Just three days after falling into a 21-point hole by halftime against St. John’s, the Bulls watched as the Cardinals put on a three-point shooting clinic, handing USF (12-13, 3-8) an 83-63 loss at Freedom Hall.

Louisville (17-8, 7-4) closed out the first half with a 26-6 run and a 30-point lead. The Cardinals shot 75 percent from three-point range in the first half and had six players combine for 36 points from beyond the arc by game’s end.

“I think it comes down to listening to and executing the scouting report, which we didn’t (do),” senior Melvin Buckley said. “None of that can be blamed on the coaching staff. It has to be blamed on the five players that were out on the court.”

Guard Brandon Jenkins scored four of Louisville’s 12 three-pointers Saturday and four of its 13 three-pointers in the Cardinals win against the Bulls on Jan. 10. Louisville scored more three-pointers in each of its games against USF than any other opponent this season.

“They have a well-balanced back court,” point guard Chris Howard said. “I think their guys either really work on shooting, or they just get hot against us.”

In Wednesday’s loss to the Red Storm, the Bulls’ night was highlighted by center Kentrell Gransberry’s 20 points and 19 rebounds. However, not even the nation’s fifth-best rebounder could keep the game close.

After getting three first-half fouls, Gransberry played most of his 25 minutes in foul trouble, while being held to single digits in both points (8) and rebounds (6) for the first time this season.

“He’s got to be a little smarter as far as the position he sometimes gets himself in (while) defending other big guys,” Buckley said of Gransberry, who has committed at least four fouls in six of the last seven games. “We’ve got to help him on the weak side and give him more support.”

The Bulls are 0-14 on the road in conference play since joining the Big East last season, and Saturday’s loss was the third this season on the road to be lost by at least 21 points. Coach Robert McCullum has repeatedly said that for USF to be successful in the Big East it has to keep its games at a slow pace.

“We start the game off too fast when we’re away from home, and that’s not good,” Buckley said. “You’ve got to come in and establish a pace when you’re in a different environment, especially a hostile environment (19,302 fans) like we were in (Saturday).

“I told the fellas before the game, if we come in here and try to get into a running game, over time they’re going to win, especially in their house. We needed to come out and eat some shot clock up and establish a post presence and we never got around to doing that.”