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Men’s basketball loses at home despite Harris’ strong night

Senior guard Tyler Harris broke the AAC career three-point record against his former team with 267 career threes. USF ATHLETICS PHOTO

In another game full of turnover troubles, USF men’s basketball fell at home to the Memphis Tigers 99-81.

The Bulls (10-14, 3-8 AAC) came up short to the Tigers (18-6, 8-3 AAC) despite a stellar scoring performance by senior guard Tyler Harris who contributed 28 points against his former team.

Coming out with a strong defensive presence, Memphis set the tone for the first half. USF gave up 12 turnovers in the first half allowing their opponents to score an easy 20 points. Men’s basketball struggled to keep the ball against a tight man-to-man defense and nonstop full-court press often leading to an easy fastbreak score for the Tigers.

When the Bulls managed to hold onto the ball, they only shot 38% from the field and a disappointing 25% from the three-point line. The Tigers frequent double teams caused the Bulls to struggle to find open looks often leading to a rushed or contested shot.

To cap off the first half, Memphis went on multiple scoring runs, often exposing holes in USF’s paint defense. A barrage of easy layups and wide-open dunks gave them a 13-point lead to hold off USF.

Men’s basketball however came out in the second half with a slower pace and better response to the Memphis press. They shot 61.5% from the field and 36% from beyond the arc.

Sophomore guard Selton Miguel felt the team improved by having a slower, more deliberate pace.

“I think we started off slow and then it was kind of sluggish, but I feel like the second half we slowed down a little bit and it was better than the first half,” Miguel said.

After trading baskets throughout most of the second half, the Bulls were able to go on a 7-point run to cut the Tigers’ lead down to 10. Harris led the charge with a contested three and floater putting the Bulls down by eight with under five minutes to go.

Junior center Russel Tchewa also had some big dunks to increase the energy on the floor. He ended his night with a 13 points and 12-rebounds

Memphis, however, was able to hold USF off and maintain a 10-point lead until the end of the game. The team finished with seven straight field goals to extend its lead to 18.

Despite the game getting heated near the end, coach Brian Gregory believes his team maintained their composure well. During a timeout at the end of the second half, a Memphis player bumped into Harris leading to a brief interaction between the two teams.

“I’m never a guy that doesn’t want guys to play with emotion. But you have to control these emotions and direct them in a positive, correct way,” Gregory said. “And for the most part, I thought he did….If I sense that you’re getting off track a little bit we’re gonna take you out for a couple minutes.”

Despite Harris breaking the AAC career record for three-pointers made with 267, the biggest takeaway from this game is the turnovers. USF gave up 17 turnovers and allowed Memphis 30 points off turnovers while only causing eight turnovers itself.

Although they responded better in the second half by only losing the ball five times, the early lead Memphis took proved to be too large to overcome.

Gregory said the team wanted to attack their “pressure” and push the pace against the Tigers’ defense.

“We got to keep being a little more efficient on offense with the turnovers…we got to find a balance there and be a little more disciplined with the basketball,” Gregory said.

Men’s basketball will face off against the Cincinnati Bearcats on Saturday at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+.