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USF Men’s Basketball Hangs with No. 21 Auburn, Falls 58-52

Poor second-half shooting dooms the Bulls.

The South Florida Bulls gave the No. 21 Auburn Tigers everything they could handle inside Amalie Arena on Friday night, but fell 58-52 in a game the Bulls led by as many as 15 in the first half.

The Bulls came out of the gate with a mission to cause havoc and make things difficult for the Tigers and succeeded early on as they caused six turnovers in the first five minutes of the game to stifle an offense who came into the game averaging over 85 PPG.

USF (2-2) capitalized on the turnovers and some hot shooting to take an early 15-5 lead. They pushed the lead to 25-10 before the Tigers made a quick 10-0 run to cut into the deficit.

Freshman guard Caleb Murphy did everything for the Bulls on Friday. He scored a game-high 19 points, team-high six rebounds, and added four assists as well to pace the Bulls. On the defensive side, he held Tigers’ leading scorer Wendell Green Jr. to zero points on 0-for-8 shooting.

The Bulls took a seven-point lead into the break, but another big run by the Tigers coupled by poor shooting and ball-handling gave Auburn the lead for good with 9:52 left in the game. The Tigers went on the 15-0 run to claw back from being down 40-31 to take a 46-40 lead with under eight minutes to play. USF missed ten consecutive shots to seal the deal.

USF got within 55-52 after a Javon Greene three with 2:25 to play, but end the game missing their final five shots of the night.

The Bulls face the Hampton Pirates on Wednesday at 7 p.m. on ESPN+ inside the Yuengling Center.

Notables

  • Javon Greene finished with 15 points on 4-of-8 from three.
  • Murphy (38:25) and Greene (36:07) played the most minutes they’ve played all season.
  • DJ Patrick play 15:23 and was a whopping -17 +/-.
  • After shooting 41% in the first half, the Bulls shot just 27% in the second half.