In a season defined by hot and cold streaks and an inability to find consistency, USF men’s basketball has endured a rocky start to the 2022-23 season.
South Florida (7-9, 0-3 AAC) currently stands in a lackluster 10th place out of eleven teams in the AAC. They are one of only two teams without a conference win.
Marred by inconsistent plays and close losses, USF began the season with five straight losses before winning six out of their next eight matchups. After posting a winning record for the first time since November 2021, the Bulls then dropped three consecutive conference games including close losses to Temple and Wichita State.
Here is how the season has gone as USF hopes to turn its play around.
Midseason game of the year
USF beats Charleston Southern 79-59 (Dec. 2)
USF has notoriously struggled shooting this season, yet its offense played historically well against the Buccaneers.
South Florida matched a decades-old program record with 14 three-pointers, tying the record set against Oral Roberts in 1991.
Senior guard Tyler Harris shot five for six from the three-point line, with junior guard Jamir Chaplin and sophomore forward Sam Hines Jr. adding two a piece. The Bulls also held CSU to two for 18 shooting from the three.
This game marked the first victory in a five-game winning streak for the Bulls.
Midseason heartbreak of the year
USF falls to Wichita State 70-66 (Jan. 8)
The Bulls failed to snap a two-game skid and pick up their first conference victory in a disappointing loss to the Shockers.
South Florida led by as much as 14 as they let Wichita State shoot nearly 48% and 58% from three in the second half.
With foul troubles and a leaky second-half defense, the Bulls slowly let their double-digit lead disappear. USF also struggled shooting from the three, with a low 11% shooting average in the second half.
Despite the game being tied with two minutes left to play, sophomore WSU guard Melvion Flanagan drilled two consecutive threes to put away USF for good.
Harris, a fifth-year senior guard, has been the driving force behind the Bulls’ offense this season, leading South Florida in scoring and minutes played. Harris plays an average of 30.4 minutes per game, and his 82 made field goals lead the Bulls at midseason.
The Memphis transfer has averaged 15.3 points per game on 37% percent shooting, as well as 36% from the three-point line.
Harris is one of only two Bulls to start every game for USF this season. His veteran leadership and collegiate experience has led to some memorable performances this season.
The senior guard recorded a season-high of 22 points against UAB and NJIT, and hit a game-winning three-pointer against Northern Iowa.
Sam Hines Jr.
Hines Jr. has found himself to be an important contributor in his first full season in the starting lineup.
Hines Jr. ranks fourth on the team in minutes played after averaging only 17 per game last season. He is now playing 26 minutes per game and is shooting an impressive 51% from the floor.
The former University of Denver transfer has racked up two double-doubles this season, scoring over 10 points and 10 rebounds in the same game twice this season against both Auburn and Wichita State.
Hines Jr. is a versatile forward with length and agility who poses a threat on both ends of the court, and looks to be a focal point for seasons to come as the Bulls hope to turn their program around.
The team faces a slate of crucial conference matchups, including January games against No. 1 Houston, Cincinnati, Temple and SMU. South Florida also has yet to play its annual War on I-4 rivalry game against Central Florida, which will take place at the Yuengling Center on Jan. 21.
USF will need to start collecting conference wins if they want to improve their seeding for the AAC tournament.
The Bulls need to improve their play beyond the three point line if they want to find their way back in the win column. Shooting barely above 31%, the team has often been plagued by poor shooting this season. Free throws have also been a struggle for USF, ranking dead last in the conference at a mere 62%.
The Bulls have proven they can put the ball in the hoop at an effective rate and string wins together, but they need to improve on consistent play.