Inconsistency and shooting struggles prove costly for the Bulls

David Collins, Justin Brown and Alexis Yetna participated in the Senior Night celebrations prior to the game against Memphis on Tuesday night. USF ATHLETICS PHOTO

Inconsistency stung USF men’s basketball on Senior Night as it fell 73-52 to a Memphis team that was a step quicker. 

The most glaring weakness on USF’s (8-11, 4-9 AAC) part was its long-distance shooting, draining just three of 18 three-point attempts.

“We’re just not shooting the ball very well right now,” coach Brian Gregory said. “Where we lost the game was our inability to make threes and their ability to make 11-of-25. Some of those [missed shots] were because they are one of the best defensive teams in the country, not just in [the AAC].”  

Memphis (15-6, 11-3 AAC) didn’t give the Bulls many opportunities to breathe, stifling the USF offense with an early full-court press and active hands defensively. 

By the time the first timeout was called, Memphis had already forced four turnovers, three from freshman guard Caleb Murphy.

The Bulls managed to hang around with the equally turnover-prone Tigers early in the first half, but the inconsistent offense let them down.

After Justin Brown sank the first three of the game for the Bulls, they failed to score the next six minutes as Memphis scored 10 unanswered points to extend its lead for good.

The Bulls found themselves down 20 before the half was over and could never pull within single digits again.

Another glaring inconsistency was on the boards. The Bulls were outrebounded 46-28, including 14 offensive rebounds allowed to Memphis.

“Their dominance on the glass really put us in a tough spot,” Gregory said. “Obviously we were playing much smaller, so we didn’t have the offensive rebounding capabilities.”

Many of those offensive boards came on simple hustle plays which the Tigers pounced on regularly, leaving an already tired Bulls defense to guard another possession. USF had no such luck scoring on second chances.

“Second-chance points [were] only eight to zero,” Gregory noted about the inconsistent offensive rebounding. “We didn’t get one second-chance point tonight.”

Seniors Justin Brown and David Collins both struggled to impact the game, finishing with just six points each and each getting into foul trouble as the game slipped away. Their performances didn’t stop Gregory from praising their impacts on the program.

“We’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about the graduating seniors that played tonight and their individual accomplishments … Those guys have done a tremendous job representing what South Florida athletics, what the university is all about,” he said.

Redshirt junior forward Alexis Yetna participated in the Senior Night festivities, but he missed his final opportunity of the season to play in front of the home crowd because of an injury.

It has yet to be announced whether Collins, Brown or Yetna will be returning to the program next season. The NCAA offered an extra year of eligibility to all basketball players for this season due to COVID-19.

The Bulls will close out the regular season with a trip to Kansas to take on Wichita State on Saturday before shifting their focus to the conference tournament.