Well, USF suffered a heartbreaking loss to the UCF Knights on Thursday, 59-56. Despite leading for 28 minutes, the Bulls dropped to 7-21, 1-16 in the AAC, as they head into their final game of the regular season.
“That was a hard one ... I’m very proud of our guys,” USF head coach Murry Bartow said. “This is a Central Florida team that just beat Cincinnati. They’re really good. We played incredibly hard.”
Both teams were scoreless for first two and a half minutes of play. So that wasn’t very encouraging or entertaining. And wanna know something funny? The first points of the game were from UCF’s 7’6” sophomore center Tacko Fall. So if that didn’t set the standard.
After another minute, the Bulls finally connected with a layup from freshman forward Tulio Da Silva. A couple minutes after that, freshman guard Mike Bibby hit a catch-and-shoot three pointer and the Bulls held the Knights scoreless for two and a half minutes.
UCF senior guard Matt Williams ended the Knights’ socring drought with a jumper. To which Da Silva responded with one of his own SO TAKE THAT.
Jk let me calm down because UCF hit a three-pointer on their next possession. That’s what I get for talking trash.
BUT BREAKING. With 10:49 to play, USF ACTUALLY HELD A LEAD. Which was all fun and games until Mike Bibby hobbled off the court nursing what appeared to be his left leg/ankle. CAN WE EVER HAVE NICE THINGS AND KEEP THEM? No.
The Bulls held the Knights to another two-minute scoring drought before UCF sophomore guard B.J. Taylor knocked another one down from beyond the arc.
ALSO BREAKING: RUBEN GUERRERO HAD 6 BOARDS BY THIS TIME. Probably the most he’s had in an entire game in a while. But no, I’m not looking.
“I mean I’m obviously pretty happy with how I did but I think everybody that played that came in today gave effort,” Guerrero said. “We played a great game. I mean, we came up a little short but we all played great.”
Spoiler: Guerrero finished the game with 10 boards. Sorry, couldn’t contain my excitement for his acceptable stats!
“I thought Ruben and Luis (Santos) fought incredibly hard. Luis goes for 6 and 8, Ruben goes for 6 and 10. So between them they get 12 and 18. Man we can’t ask for anything more than that. The combination of that five position … I thought they fought their tails off.”
But back to the UCF threes. Williams hit, yes, another one to cput UCF’s deficit to 19-17 with 6:30 to play. And the Knights followed up with another field goal to cap off an 8-0 run over 4:18. Oh and meanwhile the Bulls turned the ball over FIVE times in this little stint. So bye.
This was a fun stat with about two minutes to play in the first half:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="da" dir="ltr">USF & UCF combined turnovers: 19<br>USF & UCF combined field goals: 16</p>— Ryan T. Smith (@RyanSmithWrites) <a href="https://twitter.com/RyanSmithWrites/status/837462017317421061">March 3, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
The Bulls finished the half shooting 40 percent from the field, compared to the Knights’ 34 percent. But they only hit ONE three pointer as opposed to UCF’s four. Smh. USF outrebounded the Knights 23-16 and grabbed 18 points in the paint compared to UCF’s 6. Which isn’t terrible. Both teams were equally as trash in regards to turning the ball over, and I guess equally as “decent” in free throw shooting. Da Silva led the Bulls with 10 points and 4 rebounds.
Jump up and down because this half only took 90 seconds for scoring to commence! Freshman forward Malik Fitts knocked down the jumper to increase the Bulls’ lead to 31-27. Oh, and Bibby was back on the court. Lookin’ a little more promising than the start of the first half did. So we’ll take it.
A two and a half minute scoring drought and another three-pointer by Taylor allowed the Knights to tie the game at 31 four minutes into the second half. But a jumper from junior guard Geno Thorpe and a lay-in from junior forward Bo Zeigler put the Bulls ahead 35-31.
Things started to get exciting and the Sun Dome started to turn up a little. And I mean more than from just the obnoxious UCF student section. *rolls eyes*
Fitts hit the Bulls’ second three pointer of the night and the Bulls were up 40-36 at the under 12 timeout.
And then we saw what was likely the biggest play of the game. An alley-oop from Thorpe to Zeigler for the SLAM which was absolutely #SCTopTen worthy, and quite possibly one of the best we’ve seen since the Victor Rudd era. Yes, I’m biased. Yes, I miss Victor. No, I do not care. So the Bulls took a 44-41 lead off of Zeigler’s dunk. Then he turned it over. Because, you know … USF.
Holston knocked down the Bulls’ third three-pointer of the game to put the Bulls up 49-46. And then this little hot take came rolling in:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">7:29 from having to build a Murry Bartow statue on campus. How he got this team prepared and effective tonight is world class.</p>— Collin Sherwin (@USFCollin) <a href="https://twitter.com/USFCollin/status/837474957194104834">March 3, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
Holston hit another three with two and a half minutes to play and Williams returned one of his own. Sigh.
UCF took a one-point lead with a minute to play. 57-56 to be exact, then the Knights tried for the three and missed it but of course recovered and ran the clock.
With eight seconds to play, Thorpe SOMEHOW missed a 10-footer. Like, the ball literally (pretty much) went in and then rolled out of the basket. And our hearts sunk.
“The guys are really down, really distraught,” Bartow said. “They put a lot into this game.”
UCF went on to draw the foul and sunk two free-throws to grab a 59-56 lead with five seconds to play.
And then Bibby air balled the deep three for the tie as the clock ran out. And if that doesn’t sum up USF basketball I don’t know what does.
“We defended hard, the guys followed the game plan perfectly.” Bartow said. “Just needed a few more baskets to go down, but I’m really proud of our guys ... “I thought they fought incredibly hard.”
USF will host the Temple Owls on Sunday at 2pm for the final game of the regular season.
“We were right there tonight. We controlled a lot of the tempo of the game. I thought we were in a great position. The guys are really distraught.”