Staff thoughts before the game: If we’re going to win any game for the rest of the season, it’s going to be this one. I mean, Tulane entered the game 3-12, 0-3 in the American, and had lost their last five games. So it looked like we had a chance, right? Well, USF ended up taking another L, leaving the Sun Dome with an 82-67 defeat.
“I’m disappointed,” interim head coach Murry Bartow said. “I thought the SMU game we competed and fought. Tonight we just didn’t have quite the same zip. And I give Tulane a lot of credit.”
Junior center Ruben Guerrero opened scoring for the Bulls with a dunk, which looked promising. But the Green Wave responded with a 9-0 run over 2 minutes … as USF committed three turnovers. Ha.
“We can’t let a team do that to us,” Bartow said. “We got off to a really slow start, we’re down 11-2 before you could blink. It’s obvious but you want to get off to a good start.”
Junior guard Geno Thorpe ended the scoring drought with a layup. And a three pointer by freshman guard Mike Bibby woke the (600-ish people) crowd up. He quickly hit another to cut the Bulls’ deficit to three points.
Disclaimer: Bad news coming.
Tulio checked out at 13:31 on what was either a leg or ankle injury, and appeared to be pretty shook on the bench. Like…towel over the face, “Are you crying?” type shook. Not good. To much of the Sun Dome’s surprise he checked back in about five minutes after being sidelined *lets out huge sigh of relief* …. Then he hobbled off the court again two minutes later. And I cried internally. Maybe a little externally, too…
“You know, I don’t know ... I’m not sure, I’ll go visit with him and talk with him and see,” Bartow said on what exactly Tulio’s injury was. “I love him as a player, Tulio’s got a great motor. Tulio’s game is really predicated on his body and his legs and his energy. He’s really more of an athletic, high motor guy than he is really a skilled player.”
A pair of free throws by Thorpe gave the Bulls their first lead of the night (YAY!) at 20-19 with nine minutes remaining in the half. Tulane responded with a sharp trey not long after, and regained their lead.
With less than six minutes to play, sophomore guard Troy Holston hit a three of his own on his second attempt (why is this important, you ask? Well, he had 14 attempts against SMU on Saturday so yes, we are keeping track tonight….).
Overall the half was pretty back and forth after USF grabbed a quick lead, but it wasn’t as terrible as it could have been based off the first five minutes. Guerrero led the Bulls with nine points. Behind Ruben, Thorpe finished the half with 8 points, which is cool, BUT SO DID Luis Santos. Okay, big fella!! Tulane led 40-38.
The second half started off pretty faint offensively. USF regained the lead about seven minutes in, which would have looked promising if Tulane hadn’t responded with a 6-0 run. The Green Wave worked up a 10-point lead in the first 10 minutes of the half. Great.
If you’re wondering at this point “Oh, I wonder what happened with Tulio…” Well, I wouldn’t be able to tell you and neither would he. He came back in the second half and went from hobbling to running fine, to hobbling to running fine. So let’s just optimistically assume he’s OK.
“If his body is banged up, it obviously has an impact on his game,” Bartow said. “For any team to win and be good your best players have to play like best players. Tulio’s really one of our best players so for us to look good and play well we need him to play at his best. And he did look a little banged up tonight but hopefully he’ll be back and ready to go tomorrow.”
On another bad note, (I know, I’m the worst…) freshman forward Malik Fitts took a hard fall under the basket with eight minutes left, and called for trainers immediately. He seemed to be in serious pain and headed to the bench … before checking in three minutes later. These guys really know how to throw me into cardiac arrest and then revive me.
With 4:42 to play, the Green Wave took the largest lead of the night at 69-57. Sigh.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Bartow said. “It’s a process ... I don’t want to sugar coat it. We weren’t as good tonight.”
With 1:55 to play, the most entertaining part of the second half (or possibly entire game) came when Tulane’s Melvin Frazier fouled out, and the USF band chanted various adverbs such as “Walking,” “Standing,” “Squatting,” until about five minutes later when he FINALLY sat down.
The Bulls never recovered from Tulane’s 12-point lead. Final score: 82-67. Thorpe had a team-high 16 points.
“We’ve just got to keep building,” Bartow said. “Guys are working hard. Incredibly hard in practice. But when its game night, that’s the time you have to show what you’ve done in practice and we just didn’t have it.”
Coach Bartow will look for his first W as the Bulls travel to Memphis on Saturday for a 6 p.m. tipoff.