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Bulls fall to IUPUI; Kiir moving on from program, according to Gregory

USF fell to IUPUI on Wednesday night at the Yuengling Center. ORACLE PHOTO/BRIAN HATTAB

Thanks to 23 turnovers, an 8-of-18 performance from the free-throw line and a miserable 7-of-26 from the field in the second half, USF fell 70-53 to Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) (2-2) on Wednesday night at the Yuengling Center.

But the biggest loss Wednesday may have come off the court.

As The Oracle first reported on Twitter, 6-foot-9-inch junior guard Mayan Kiir  is moving on from the program, coach Brian Gregory announced after the game.

Kiir, who had been out indefinitely for undisclosed personal reasons, played in all 38 games last season, shooting 45 percent from the field.

“I met with him earlier this week, and just kind of a mutual decision,” Gregory said. “He’s going to look at some different options — either go play professionally, or possibly look at going to another school. He’s going to finish out this semester … he’s getting our unwavering support and everything.”

As for the game itself, while guards Laquincy Rideau and Rashun Williams led the Bulls with 15 and 11 points, respectively, IUPUI was simply explosive from 3-point range in the first half, going 8-of-12 from beyond the arc.

IUPUI guards Isaiah Williams and Jaylen Minnett led all scorers with 26 and 17 points each, and the duo was aided largely by subpar defending from USF, according to Gregory.

“I think we gave some easy ones early,” Gregory said. “When you have guys that have the freedom to take those shots, then all of a sudden, even some tough ones go in … and then, all of a sudden, every scramble, every loose ball, all of a sudden, the ball ends up in their hands. It’s like a perfect storm when you’re in that situation. And we didn’t have the grit to stick with what we needed to do and try to grind one out.”

Despite this, the Bulls only trailed by two at the half and, in the final 20 minutes, the Jaguars went cold from long range, only going 2-of-7.

But it wasn’t enough.

“Even with the 3s — it was some of those other backbreaking plays,” Gregory said. “When you give up some open drives to the basket, when you give up those back cuts — those are big plays. Those are big plays, because they didn’t have to work for that.”

The Bulls’ woes didn’t start with Wednesday’s game, though, according to Gregory.

“It’s no secret if you’re playing like that, what would you assume?” Gregory asked reporters in the Yuengling Center media room.

“We’re not practicing well,” Gregory followed up. “If you see it in the game, you see it in practice. And we’re not practicing very well right now, and you’ve seen it in the game. That’s just something that we need to get back to being who we are when it comes to our practice habits, our defensive habits and getting better on the offensive end as well.”

Considering it started with the women’s pregame hype video being shown in error initially, Wednesday’s game was bad all around, according to Gregory.

“Today was a bad day from the start,” Gregory said. “Starting lineups, they’ve got the women’s thing going. So it was s**t from the start. Excuse my language.”

While the game ended poorly, the Bulls’ day started out well enough.

USF announced four-start recruit Caleb Murphy (Youngstown, Ohio) signed a National Letter of Intent during the first day of the early signing period.

Murphy, who picked the Bulls over powerhouse programs like Florida, Clemson, Missouri and Georgia, ranks as Rivals’ No. 55 player and the 13th-best prospect at his position of combo guard in his class.

“Caleb is a playmaker, has a tremendous feel for the game and possesses a high basketball IQ,” Gregory said in a release. “We want to recruit high-level talent that are high-character kids and Caleb Murphy is definitely one of those.”