Bulls hit road looking for first win

USF (0-2) at Rhode Island (2-0)When: Today, 2:15 p.m.Where: Ocean Center ArenaTV/Radio: None/1250 AM

The men’s basketball team hopes to put an end to its sluggish start in second-round play of the Glenn Wilkes Classic.

The Bulls lost their first-round match in their regular-season opener, falling 73-70 to Cleveland State at the Sun Dome.

For USF to win its first game under new coach Stan Heath, they have to play better defense in the second half.

Against Cleveland State and at Buffalo (a contest not part of the Glenn Wilkes Classic), USF fell behind early, then regained the lead, only to let its opponent rally late and win the game.

“I thought we battled. At a lot of times we cut it to one or two and even tied it at the five minute mark, and that’s the time when you need that defensive stop,” Heath said following the loss to Buffalo. “I thought we were hurried and didn’t get the intensity needed at the defensive end, and so I’m really disappointed.”

Today the team travels across the state to play Rhode Island, a team coming off wins over Florida Atlantic and Brown.

Four schools (USF, Florida State, Alabama-Birmingham and Rhode Island) hosted first-round games. The Bulls are the only home team to lose in first-round action.

Rounding out the eight-team tournament are Georgia Southern, Florida Atlantic, Stetson and Cleveland State. Now, the venue shifts to Daytona Beach for three days, four games daily, at the 8,000-seat Ocean Center.

The tournament is named after Wilkes, the former Stetson coach, who has been called “the Godfather of Florida basketball.” Wilkes spent 41 seasons with the Hatters and won 674 games during his career.

In 1958, Wilkes opened the first basketball school in the South, the Glenn Wilkes Basketball School.

After facing the Rams, USF will play Florida Atlantic (0-2) at noon Saturday and close out the tournament Sunday at 8 p.m. against Florida State (2-0).