Coming off of a huge win against UCF on Saturday, the Bulls (6-5, 2-3) looked to build upon the momentum gained and come out with a good showing Wednesday versus Tulsa (7-3, 4-1).
However, an inefficient shooting performance derailed their hopes of stringing two victories together as they fell to the Golden Hurricane by a score of 61-51.
Redshirt junior Alexis Yetna and senior guards David Collins and Justin Brown were neutralized for virtually the entire game. The trio scored a combined four points and shot 2 of 16 from the field. Collins was held to just one shot attempt and Yetna registered five attempts himself.
Coach Brian Gregory said the Bulls will need Yetna, Collins and Brown to perform better if they’re going to beat teams of Tulsa’s caliber.
“Obviously you [have] got to get a better game from the big three in Alexis [Yetna], David [Collins] and Justin [Brown], the three upperclassmen, in order to beat the team that won the [AAC] championship last year,” Gregory said.
The rest of the team didn’t find much success with shooting the ball either. The Bulls collectively shot a lowly 32.7% from the field and 13.6% from the three-point line.
Despite a poor shooting performance, USF trailed by two points at halftime. They also started off the game on the wrong side of a 14 to 4 run.
“[I was] disappointed in our start, obviously, but [I] was pleased with the last 10 minutes of the first half,” Gregory said. “I thought our energy from some guys off the bench really gave us a good lift.”
One of those energy boosters off the bench was sophomore guard Jamir Chaplin who registered a career-high 16 points. Ten of those points came in the first half.
Gregory said Chaplin’s performance was consistent with what he had seen from the 6-foot-5-inch guard in practice.
“It was good to see,” Gregory said. “He’s been a little inconsistent over the last three weeks, [we’re] obviously trying to stick with him, and get him back to playing [well].
“That was the Jamir Chaplin I saw every day in practice for six weeks. His aggressiveness, his ability athletically to get out and run, I thought he did a really good job on [Brandon] Rachal when he was guarding him.”
Coming out of the break, Gregory and the Bulls looked to take control of the game but the team just didn’t respond.
“To start the second half we just didn’t respond coming out of halftime,” Gregory said. “[We] turned the ball over, and didn’t get any stops I think in the first five possessions.”
Roughly three minutes into the second half, Tulsa found themselves up 35-24 and did not look back. The Bulls flirted with a comeback as they were down six points with six minutes remaining on the clock, but that was as close as they would get.
USF is now below .500 in conference play, but a Jan. 9 opportunity at East Carolina gives them the chance to get back to even.
“[We were] just not able to get over that next step and we’re going to have to keep fighting to get there,” Gregory said.