USF men’s basketball achieves longest win streak in program history

USF now has 13 conference wins in a season – the most it’s ever had in a single season. USF ATHLETICS PHOTO

The Bulls came into Sunday’s SMU matchup riding the momentum of 12 consecutive wins, knowing the conference title is in the realm of possibility.

USF (21-5, 14-1 AAC) managed its 13th straight win after beating SMU (19-9, 10-5 AAC) 79-68 on Sunday. The win set a new record for the longest winning-streak in program history.

The previous record of winning 12 games in a row was set in the 1980-81 season.

The win places the Bulls in a favorable position to make the top 25 AP rankings for the first time ever in history.

During the last round of AP voting, USF received 48 votes, surpassing every other team in the American. However, they still couldn’t secure a spot in the top 25 rankings.

Related: USF men’s basketball inches closer to AP Top 25 rankings

Coach Amir Abdur-Rahim said he wants people to talk about the culture and school spirit instead of himself after winning 13 games in a row.

“Our job is to not only win games, but how we win them is important,” Abdur-Rahim said. “I think we win these with really high character kids that love playing at the University of South Florida. It’s not about me, by any means.”

The Mustangs were welcomed by a sold out crowd of 10,251. This marked the second time the home team experienced a full house this season, immediately after the win against FAU on Feb. 18.

Related: USF upsets No. 24 FAU in second-half thriller.

The Bulls have proven to be consistent from the bench this season, averaging around 27 points per game.

Performances from the substitutes reached a new level against SMU as 24 of USF’s 34 first-half points came from non-starters.

However, the bench only proved to be a saving grace as USF gave away 10 turnovers in the first half – twice the amount it forced from the Mustangs.

Junior forward Kasean Pryor had a team-high 19 points and recorded eight rebounds – the highest in the game.

Abdur-Rahim said he admires how Pryor has improved technically but is more proud of his work ethic.

“He’s a guy that has continued to get better this year,” Abdur-Rahim said. “But what I’m most proud of is how he could be up in my office every day (saying) ‘Coach why haven’t I started the last two or three games?’ All he does is come to practice, come to work and he continues to get better.”

Pryor made all six of his shot attempts and missed only two of his eight free throws.

More than half of SMU’s total points came from offensive rebounds as it scored 39 second-chance points. 

Abdur-Rahim said his team needs to be precautious about getting careless this late in the season.

“Having 15 turnovers, we’re getting really careless with the ball and that’s not a good thing late in the season,” Abdur Rahim said. “We got a big time game coming up on Saturday at Charlotte, a team that I’m sure will be ready for us.”

The Bulls have a chance of winning the regular season title if they win their next game against Charlotte on Saturday.

USF will travel to take on the Charlotte 49ers in its next conference battle. The game will tip-off at 4 p.m. on Saturday and can be watched on ESPN+.