USF’s strong first half leads to bounce-back win over Northern Iowa

Senior guard Chris Youngblood failed to score in double-digits for the first time this season, but USF still prevailed against UNI. USF ATHLETICS PHOTO

Senior guard Jose Placer scored 21 points as USF men’s basketball defeated Northern Iowa 74-65 at the Yuengling Center on Sunday.

Sophomore guard Kobe Knox added 13 points while senior guard Selton Miguel scored eight points and seven rebounds.

Bulls coach Amir Abdur-Rahim said the team’s continuity and communication for the entire 40 minutes led to the win.

Northern Iowa (1-2) got out to an early lead that was quickly extinguished by an 18-0 scoring run by USF (2-1).

With six points, freshman guard Jayden Reid led the team in scoring after the first half. This continues an already-impressive start to his collegiate career. 

The Panthers were held scoreless for over seven minutes in the first half, failing to make a shot over an 11-minute span. 

The Bulls had a strong defensive showing, holding the Panthers to just 18% shooting from the three. 

“I thought our ball pressure was disruptive after the first four minutes,” Abdur-Rahim said. 

UNI shot just one of 17 to close out the first half. USF led 32-22 after the first 20 minutes of play. 

USF kept its foot on the gas in the second half, shooting 56% from the floor. 

The Bulls maintained their lead throughout the rest of the game, leaning on their veteran transfer point guard. 

Placer scored 16 of his 21 points in the second half. He credited his teammates for sparking his season-high performance. 

“They instill that confidence in me, they always tell me to keep my head up and keep going,” Placer said. “That in it of itself gives me the confidence to be able to do these things.” 

Placer – who spent four seasons at North Florida – has a storied history against Abdur-Rahim. The two faced off seven times while in the Atlantic Sun Conference. 

UNI only shot 18% from three. Last week, Abdur-Rahim said the Bulls need to rely on their strong defense. Games like this do exactly that. 

“It’s only the third game of the year, and I say humbly – I think we got a lot more room to improve,” he said.

USF will now face off against Maine on Wednesday. The Black Bears (3-3) are coming off a 67-58 loss against North Florida.

USF will take on Maine on Nov. 22 at the Yuengling Center. Tipoff is set for 7 P.M. and will be broadcast on ESPN+ and BullsUnlimited.