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Men's Basketball Opens With a Win Over Flagler College

USF started out the Orlando Antigua era in the best way possible Friday night, cruising to a 75-61 win over the Flagler College Saints.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The USF starting lineup was Jaleel Cousins at center, Bo Ziegler at forward, and three guards: Anthony Collins, Corey Allen Jr. and Nehemias Morillo. According to Head Coach Orlando Antigua, the starting lineup is not set in stone, it depends on the players themselves. "I don't determine that, they determine that every day in practice as they compete," he said. Apparently it is university policy to declare open competition for spots in every men's sport.

The Bulls got off to a fast start, converting turnovers into points and building a ten point lead in the first six minutes of the game. Comfortably ahead, they never looked back. USF's defense was solid through the first half, holding Flagler to just nine field goals and 27 points. Freshman guard Troy Holston Jr. got a couple of steals, as did starting guard Corey Allen. By the half time buzzer, USF was up 45-27.

Flagler outscored USF by four points in the second half, and played very well toward the end of the game, but they were never in danger of actually making a comeback. Nehemias Morillo really took off in the second half, managing to post a double-double with 13 points and ten rebounds. The second half lead mostly hovered around 15, and USF came away with a 75-61 win.

By the way, if you have not come to the Sun Dome for a basketball game yet, do yourself a favor and come. Last night, there was an energetic crowd with a devoted student section, not to mention the pep band, Sun Dolls, cheerleaders and Rocky. Also, there's a Simba cam.

Anyway what can a win over a school of 2,500 students that plays in the NAIA tell you? A few things:

The Bulls have some depth. Nine different players scored in this game and nine different players got rebounds. Forward Chris Perry played for 21 minutes, and he established quite a presence with 18 points, seven rebounds, two blocked shots and two steals. When he and Jaleel Cousins were in the game simultaneously, the guards had no trouble feeding the ball into the paint for easy points.

The Bulls lack of experience can be a problem. They fouled too much, turned the ball over too much and only made two of their 14 attempts from beyond the arc. "As they get better, hopefully their decision making and their processing will slow down some," said Antigua after the game. Hopefully their second half shooting rate of 33% will also improve with time. Some of this can be chalked up to first game jitters, if you're the optimistic type.

All in all, USF did look good and now they have more film to study and adjustments to make. They take on Jackson State at the Sun Dome tomorrow afternoon, but their first real tests will be at UAB on Thursday and at NC State next Sunday.