After holding the Shockers to a season-low 15 first-half points, the USF men’s basketball team fought past Wichita State 54-41 on Tuesday night at the Yuengling Center to snap a three-game skid and reach 13 wins for the first time since 2012.
“It wasn’t pretty on offense...but man, it was really good on defense,” head coach Brian Gregory said. “Really proud of our guys and their effort and their attitude heading into this game, and the toughness and grit they showed.”
USF (13-6, 3-4 AAC) held Wichita State to a freezing cold 28% (15-for-52) shooting from the floor and just 11% (2-for-18) from three-point range.
Leading only 4-0 at the first media timeout, the Bulls forced the Shockers into three consecutive turnovers on their first three possessions of the game. The visiting team shot 6-for-27 from the floor in the first 20 minutes and missed all eight of their three-point attempts.
Wichita State’s star senior forward Markis McDuffie, the AAC’s second-leading scorer, registered only eleven points, well-below his season average.
After USF built a 30-15 halftime lead, the Shockers exploded for a 14-2 run to trim the Bulls advantage to just six points with 7:16 remaining.
Crucial three-balls from Justin Brown and Alexis Yetna however helped USF push the lead to double digits and secure the victory as Wichita State went the final 3:46 without a basket.
Sophomore David Collins led all scorers, finishing with 13 points and hauling in six rebounds while redshirt junior Laquincy Rideau added 11 points, nine boards, five assists and four steals.
“We kept our poise and stayed disciplined on defense and just kept getting stops,” Rideau said. “We came out with grit and wanted to win.”
As a team, USF shot a (not much better) season-low 30% (15-for-50) from the floor and 32% (6-for-19) from behind the arc.
“We talked on Sunday that after losing to three of the top four teams in our league, we we’re going to need to respond,” Gregory added. “I told the guys that we’ll see what our commitment level is towards what we are trying to build, and I thought you saw it tonight.”
USF continues conference play on Saturday afternoon at ECU. Tip is set for 4 p.m. on ESPNU.
- Rideau is seven steals shy of a new USF single-season record and is second in the NCAA, averaging 3.2 per game.
- The Bulls forced the Shockers into 20 turnovers
- USF shot an improved 75% (18-for-24) from the charity stripe and continues to lead the country in free throw attempts.