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.