YOU GUYS. THE USF MEN’S BASKETBALL TEAM IS NO LONGER WINLESS IN THE AMERICAN ATHLETIC FREAKING CONFERENCE. USF 64, ECU 57. I DO NOT CARE THAT WE ARE 1-12. IT IS BETTER THAN 0-13. OH AND MURRY BARTOW GOT HIS FIRST WIN AS THE BULLS INTERIM HEAD COACH. GOOD FOR YOU, MAN.
I think I’m done yelling now.
“It means a lot to me because it means a lot to the guys,” Bartow said. “We knew it was coming. It was a great win. We’re excited ... we knew at some point we’d get one. And tonight’s the night.”
ECU opened with a three-pointer on the Pirates’ first possession. And extended that to an 8-0 run to start the game. A layup by junior center Ruben Guerrero got USF on the board before the Bulls went scoreless for four minutes.
Freshman forward Tulio Da Silva put one in to end the drought and then got the Sun Dome on their feet with a nasty dunk. A three-pointer by junior guard Geno Thorpe three-pointer AND steal led to ANOTHER Da Silva dunk to give USF a 20-19 lead. Follow all that beautifulness with a steal by junior forward Bo Zeigler led to ANOTHER (no, this is not a typo) dunk by Da Silva. THREE SO FAR. Dare I start a counter?
“I was really excited,” Da Silva said. “When I got in the game I was trying to score and help my team. So I was really excited.”
A three by sophomore guard Troy Holston extended the Bulls’ lead to 31-22 with a minute to play. YES, USF HAD THE LEAD. And Bo ended the first half with a buzzer-beating dunk to take a 33-22 lead into halftime. LET’S. GO.
Da Silva led all first-half scorers with 10 points.
“I thought Tulio was phenomenal,” Bartow said. “Our 3-2 zone with Tulio on top was big. Tulio gave us a real different look on top. And he’s got that bounce to him so he likes to play it. If I was a little smarter we would’ve done it earlier, but I’m not real smart at times. But it looked good tonight.”
It wouldn’t have been crazy to assume that the Pirates were going to come out of the gates and turn the game around. But NOPE. We saw layups from Thorpe and Da Silva to open second half scoring. And we smiled.
AND THEN. Back to back threes. One by freshman guard Bibby and another by Thorpe. At this point you could have either thought “there’s a lot of time left” or “they might actually pull this off!” barring whether you’re an optimist or pessimist. This team makes it VERY easy to be the latter, but hey! Thorpe hit another three and the lead was suddenly 14.
“We need to keep working on defending, rebounding, and taking care of the ball,” Thorpe said. “And we did that tonight, which is good. That’s a good sign.”
To nobody’s surprise, ECU held the Bulls to a three-minute scoring drought and racked up seven points to cut their deficit to 48-41. What was once a 15-point lead was now a seven-point lead. Smh. Bibby ended the drought with a jumper and the Sun Dome was almost as excited as it was when the emcee announced USF softball’s win over No. 6 Michigan tonight.
With 35 seconds to play, the Bulls were up by five and for some reason I still couldn’t hold my breath for a win. Because HELLO IT’S THE USF MEN’S BASKETBALL TEAM.
But a miracle happened. A GOSH DARN MIRACLE. The Bulls pulled off a 64-57 win over the Pirates and ARE NO LONGER WINLESS IN THE CONFERENCE. And Bartow is no longer winless as interim head coach. And maybe all of the games should tip off at 8:00 p.m. for good luck ... (jk I would never show up and I was an hour early tonight).
“It’s about finishing the season strong and preparing for the conference tournament,” said Thorpe, who led all scorers with 22 points and 8 assists. “And trying to make a run at that.”
“I thought Geno was phenomenal,” Bartow said. “He played well.”
Next up the Bulls will host the No. 11 Cincinnati Bearcats, who completely annihilated them in the last matchup... but whatever. Be at the Sun Dome on Wednesday at 7pm. See ya there.
“Fortunately we’ve got another easy one coming up on Wednesday against Cincinnati,” Bartow said. “But we’re going to enjoy this one tonight.”