Well, that was just about the worst way to start conference play. The Bulls got absolutely dominated by the #18 Memphis Tigers at the Sun Dome tonight, losing 88-73
USF (9-5) definitely missed junior guard Anthony Collins, who sat out his fourth game in a row now due to his left knee injury. Freshman forward John Egbunu had a huge game though and earned a double-double with 20 points and 14 rebounds, both being career highs. "He pretty much inspired everybody with his intensity," said Head Coach Stan Heath on Egbunu. Senior forward Victor Rudd shot just 3-12, but made 11-16 from the free-throw line and finished with 17 points and 9 rebounds. Also in double digits were guards Cory Allen Jr and Martino Brock with 15 and 11 points respectively.
The Bulls drew a lot of fouls and got to the line 41 times (season high), making 29 of them for a 70% average. These teams entered this game as the bottom two teams in the conference for three-point percentage (with USF taking the prize for dead last). Memphis, however, shot it well from downtown making 8-20 for a 40% average, while USF went 0-9.
"The speed we faced against them was, quite frankly, something we haven't seen before," said Stan Heath. Speaking on the dominance of the Memphis guards, "they pretty much got what they wanted to get."
Memphis (10-2) dominated this one and walked away with a win to start their conference schedule. The Tigers had four players register double digits in points. Leading them was senior guard Geron Johnson with 19 points and close behind were guards Joe Jackson and Michael Dixon Jr, both with 18 points. They were just simply too fast for the Bulls and dominated the transition game.
It's definitely still early, but it looks like this season might not go as well as everyone hoped. This time last year the Bulls were 8-3 and were about to beat UCF to go 9-3 entering conference play. They then went on to lose 15 of their next 18 to finish the year 12-18. The Bulls aren't in the Big East anymore, but don't expect things to be much easier this time around. But in the words of Stan Heath, "it's one game, that's all it is."
Next up for the Bulls is the Houston Cougars this Saturday at the Sun Dome. Tip-off is set for 4 pm and will be broadcasted on the CBS Sports Network.