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First Half Surge Lifts USF Men’s Basketball Past Memphis 84-78

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Robert Steeg / The Daily Stampede

Despite allowing 65 second half points, including 41 to Jeremiah Martin, the USF men’s basketball team scored 27 of the game’s first 28 points and hung on for a third straight victory 84-78 over Memphis in front of 4,573 at the Yuengling Center on Saturday afternoon.

“We’re playing hard, we’re playing well, we’re doing a lot of good things,” second-year head coach Brian Gregory said. “We’re a team that just kinda keeps getting better, and we’re tough enough and fight long enough that we’ve had some pretty good success.”

The Bulls (15-6, 5-4 AAC) jumped out to a stunning 27-1 lead on the heels of multiple three-balls from sophomores David Collins and Justin Brown in the opening minutes.

Collins finished with a team-high 20 points (16 of them coming in the first half), five rebounds and two steals.

“We just wanted to make a statement and come out hard,” Collins said. “I don’t think they were ready, and we got a jump on them.”

Brown registered a career-high 19 points and made five three-pointers.

After missing their first 16 field goals, the Tigers (13-9, 5-4 AAC) finally drained a three with 10:11 remaining in the opening half before USF took a 38-13 halftime lead.

As a team, the Bulls shot a toasty 55% (22-for-40) from the floor, 47% (8-for-17) from three-point range and an impressive 73% (32-for-44) from the free throw line to seal it away late. 30 turnovers however helped Memphis mount a second half comeback.

“I never thought I’d see the day where we’d win two games this year with 30-plus turnovers,” Gregory added. “But the one thing is, they had 20.”

USF’s leading-scorer Laquincy Rideau added 15 points, four rebounds and two steals to tie the single-season steals record with 68.

Winners of three conference games in a row for the first time since 2012, the Bulls return to action on Thursday, February 7 at SMU. Tip is scheduled for 9 p.m. on ESPNU.