Bulls’ ball control leads to fifth win

Corey Allen Jr. had a career-high 29 points to help lead the Bulls to a win over Jacksonville on Saturday.  ORACLE FILE PHOTO/ADAM MATHIEU

USF (5-1) seemed to have overcome its struggles with turnovers in just a matter of games. 

In the first three games, the men’s basketball team turned the ball over 60 times. They have reduced that to just 28 over the past three games.

The pinnacle of their struggle took place at the University of Alabama-Birmingham  on
Nov. 20. The Bulls won the game in overtime, but not without allowing 24 turnovers.

“We’ve talked about making smarter decisions,” coach Orlando Antigua said after the 79-65 win against Jacksonville (2-5) on Saturday. “We’re focusing more to try to take care of the ball, so that we have more opportunities.”

USF allowed only eight turnovers against Jacksonville and made just as many blocks and steals. 

Freshman center Ruben Guerrero, who missed the first four games with a groin injury, led the Bulls with four blocks in 19 minutes. 

Though the Bulls have improved their turnover numbers, senior guard Corey Allen Jr. said the team still needs to work on rebounding.

The Dolphins out-rebounded the Bulls 42 to 37.

Allen scored a career-high 29 points on 11-of-17 shooting with four 3-pointers and assists.

“The past few days, he’s been shooting lights out in practice,” Antigua said. “I didn’t expect anything less. It doesn’t surprise me.”

Allen credited his career-best game to confidence. 

“Every time I shoot the ball, I try to shoot with confidence,” Allen said. “I guess you could say I was feeling it.”

Redshirt freshman forward Bo Zeigler, who rebounded the ball a team-high eight times, characterized Allen’s energy as “aggressive 24/7.”

“He just gives off that aura that we’re here and we’re going to compete the whole 40 minutes,” Zeigler said. “That just gives us extra energy throughout the game.”

USF trailed by one point at halftime, but came back in the second half.

The Bulls went on a 12-0 run, putting themselves up 61-48 with 10:13 left. Defensively, they held the Dolphins to 21 percent on 7-of-33 shooting in the half.

Antigua said he was most impressed with “how we took care of the ball, how we continued to fight (and) how we righted the ship and got back to who we wanted to be in the second half.”

USF plays at Alabama on Tuesday at 9 p.m. for the first of a two-game road trip.