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Bulls showing signs of improvement under Amir Abdur-Rahim

Freshman point guard Jayden Reid (0) guarding Central Michigan guard Anthony Pritchard in a game against the Chippewas on Nov. 15. ORACLE PHOTO/ARIANNA RENICK

USF men’s basketball has navigated a rollercoaster of successes and challenges in its debut season under coach Amir Abdur-Rahim. 

Kicking off the season with an exhilarating 96-52 win against SCSU on Nov. 9 the Bulls (8-5, 1-1 AAC) displayed its uptempo style of play.

Compared to last season’s (14-18, 7-11 AAC) record, the team’s improvement in areas such as scoring margin, shooting percentages and turnover reduction signals a promising change.

The Bulls now have its sights set on redefining its standings in the American Athletic Conference.

Here’s an overview of South Florida at the midseason point:

Midseason game of the year

USF versus Florida State – Dec. 9

USF clinched a noteworthy 88-72 victory against FSU in the Orange Bowl Classic.

Although the Seminoles (6-5, 3-1 ACC) rank fifth in the ACC the Bulls marked its first triumph against the ACC since 2007. This game sealed the deal of a new wave for men’s basketball, setting a new standard for success.  

The Bulls dominated early by scoring the first eight points and maintained a commanding lead through cohesive teamwork.

Senior guard Selton Miguel’s impressive 20-point performance secured the Bulls’ lead.

The Bulls’ had a 52.2% accuracy from beyond the arc making this game a defining moment in their season.

Midseason heartbreak

USF versus Central Michigan – Nov. 15

The Bulls fell short in a disappointing 68-63 loss to the Chippewas. Despite aiming for their second win of the season, the frustration heightened as Central Michigan (7-8, 2-1 MAC) was not considered a formidable opponent because of their low ranking last season and three previous losses before arriving in Tampa.

USF needed a stronger offensive performance.

Although the Bulls trailed behind 16 points in the second half, South Florida fought hard to narrow the gap but ultimately couldn’t catch up.

CMU secured the victory after back-and-forth exchanges of baskets and free throws.

Poor shooting, inconsistent defense and high expectations from the victory against SCSU added up to a heartbreaking loss. 

Star midseason newcomer 

Jayden Reid, Guard

Freshman guard Jayden Reid has had a promising start to his career. He’s flashed his passing and scoring ability through the Bulls’ first 13 games.

In a standout performance against the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff, Reid recorded 16 points. He totaled five steals and a season-high of 10 assists against South Carolina State. 

Reid has set the stage for a bright future, making him a player to watch during the second half of the season.

Midseason MVP

Selton Miguel, Guard

Miguel’s stellar performance on the court has solidified his position as a key player this season.

His midseason stats have been marked by extraordinary highs showcasing his scoring finesse against top-tier opponents.

He achieved a season-high of 21 points in a thrilling matchup against Loyola Chicago on Dec. 16. Miguel showed his versatility as he hit a high mark of eight field goals.

Miguel also put up a well-rounded effort of 20 points, four rebounds and two assists against Florida State.

Looking ahead

As the seventh-ranked team in the AAC, the Bulls have exciting prospects for the remainder of the season – every matchup going forward is a conference game.

The ability of the players to remain humble and connect on the court will determine if USF will rise in the ranks and continue to improve the program.

All eyes are on South Florida versus FAU on Feb. 18 and SMU on Feb. 25. The Bulls will have time to grasp more wins under its belt, turning the USF men’s basketball team into a real Cinderella story.

Grade: B+