The Bulls came into Thursday night’s game against UConn seeking their first three-game winning streak of the season. Instead, they were silenced at home by the Huskies 81-51 in front of an announced 4,668 fans.
After hitting their first two shots from beyond the arc, the Bulls (7-22, 4-12) couldn’t keep up from 3-point range – sinking only 30.8 percent (4-13) for the game. The Huskies (20-8, 10-5) contained USF’s shooting throughout the first half, allowing just 15.4 percent (4-26) from the field. UConn led the Bulls 28-13 at halftime.
Freshman guard Jahmal McMurray reached 1,000 minutes on the season during the first minute of play, now sitting at a team-high 1,033 minutes. Senior forward Angel Nunez sits far behind as second in minutes at 841.
Though McMurray said he just couldn’t get into a rhythm, thrown off by UConn’s defense from the start.
“We always try to come in and try to fight to get the win but I’d say tonight we didn’t bring that dog tonight, so that’s why we got the results we did.
“We didn’t give no extra effort tonight and if we just give that extra effort that’ll give us, you know, that dog back. We just got to come in and attack them instead of them attacking us.”
Senior center Jaleel Cousins was the team’s high scorer with 11 points on 2-2 from the field and 7-for-8 from the free-throw line. He said the Bulls simply let UConn read their defensive scheme.
“In the zone, they just got behind us,” Cousins said.
UConn junior guard Rodney Purvis was the team’s point leader, ending with 18 points in 26 minutes.
The Huskies outscored USF 42-20 in the paint. UConn got support from 30 bench points while the Bulls managed only 13.
USF head coach Orlando Antigua said the team looked “very uncharacteristic of the way we’ve been playing.
“I don’t know if it was the environment, the game, you know. I don’t know if Connecticut had something to do with that, or what it was but it certainly did not look like the team that had been playing the last few games.”
“We knew that they play deep, and our wings have to anticipate that. We have to be in between, not already committing out to the 3-point shooter before the ball moves, and so defensively as a unit you’re working together when that ball is moving in the zone and we weren’t doing that.”
Antigua was adamant when asked if he would feel better about being successful in the future due to his rough first two seasons as head coach (16-55 overall record). He said the adversity from his early experience builds character, which will make the success that much more gratifying.
“We know how to win. We know how this team needs to play in order for us to win. We got to get back to that.”
The Bulls will look to bounce back at home against East Carolina Wednesday. Game time for senior night is 9 p.m.