Despite a sluggish start and shooting an ugly 39% (23-of-59) from the floor, the USF men’s basketball team prevailed 69-59 over Florida A&M on Thanksgiving Eve at the Yuengling Center to improve to 4-1.
“We didn’t finish enough baskets right around the rim, and that gets a little disheartening,” head coach Brian Gregory said. “We didn’t respond well to that, but our guys found a way to win.”
After grabbing a 9-7 lead at the first media timeout, sophomore transfer Mayan Kiir slammed down the biggest dunk of the night to push the Bulls back in front 13-12.
Kiir threw down a few more highlight-reel slams on his way to finishing with nine points and hauling in six rebounds.
The Bulls threatened to bust the game open late in the first half, but had to settle for a 36-27 halftime advantage after missing key free throws (11-of-19) and shooting only 41% to close the half.
USF finished the game 19-of-30 (63%) from the charity stripe.
“We’ve got to work on our free-throw shooting,” Gregory added. “You have to really be disciplined and keep your focus...and that’s just something we aren’t as good as we need to be right now.”
Leading 53-48 with six minutes to play, sophomore guard David Collins sparked a quick 7-0 USF run with a deep three-ball to give the Bulls some much-needed breathing room.
Collins finished with a team-high 21 points, swooshed in 3-of-5 from three-point range and registered four assists.
Reshirt freshman Alexis Yetna notched his second consecutive double-double, tallying 15 points and 10 rebounds.
“I feel pretty good right now,” Yetna said. “I feel like the coaches and the team give me the confidence to play hard... I’m just trying to do my best to help the team win.”
USF continues the homestand on Saturday afternoon, hosting The Citadel at 2 p.m. before welcoming in Stetson and Colgate next week.