USF won its third conference game and second game in 15 tries when the Bulls handily defeated UCF 74-45 Wednesday at CFE Arena.
Freshmen Troy Holston Jr. and Bo Zeigler both had career games against the Knights, with Zeigler scoring 20 points and grabbing 10 rebounds and Holston scoring 19 to go along with 10 rebounds.
“I think we took it personally because they beat us at their place (this season),” Zeigler said. “We just wanted to come out and be aggressive early.”
The Bulls opened the game on a 23-6 run and finished the half with a 43-23 lead.
USF was able to hold UCF’s scoring in check all night, as the Knights made only 26.4 percent of their shots and only 2-of-20 3-pointers.
Forward Staphon Blair was the lone Knight to score in double digits as he contributed 12 points on 4-of-9 shooting.
“Our defensive intensity, our defensive focus was extremely high today,” coach Orlando Antigua said. “We’re absolutely going to be showing them this tape. They can do it, they just need to focus in and continue to concentrate and be there for each other.”
Bulls secure last-place AAC finish
Despite leading with fewer than seven minutes left in the game against Tulane, USF dropped its final regular season game, finishing last in the AAC for the second consecutive season.
The Bulls made 51.9 percent of their shots in the second half and did not commit any turnovers after halftime.
Holston followed up his double-double against UCF with 21 points before fouling out Saturday.
“We just didn’t bring the kind of toughness that I thought we were going to be able to start the game off with, which we’ve shown in the past,” Antigua said. “We didn’t show the same commitment to one another defensively that we’ve shown in the past. I had to remind them of that at halftime and obviously we had a better second half.”
The Bulls’ loss guarantees they will play at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut against UConn in the opening round of the AAC Tournament.
The game will be held Thursday at 8 p.m. and broadcast by ESPN News.
“Now we got into a fresh, new season and let’s see if we can take the things we’ve done well and build on that going into a 0-0 season,” Antigua said.
Corey Allen Jr. ineligible
On Feb. 28, USF announced senior guard Corey Allen Jr. was declared ineligible for the final six games of the season due to receiving “impermissible benefits” at a past school.
According to the university’s statement, the internal inquiry was initiated by USF and concerns “tuition payments for courses that Allen completed at another institution prior to enrolling at USF.” Additionally, “the NCAA’s decision does not affect USF’s won-loss record for either the 2013-14 or 2014-15 seasons, the two seasons Allen competed for the Bulls.”
Unless USF wins the AAC tournament this week, these sanctions will most likely end Allen’s USF career.