TAMPA, Fla. — Outside the weather was cool but the sun gave a promise that it would be a warmer day outside next to the bay that caresses the city but inside the warmest basketball venue on the sunny side of the state of Florida, it was a different story.
The 2,353 University of South Florida basketball fans that paid for the privilege to sit comfortable inside the Sun Dome witnessed along with USF basketball coach Orlando Antigua, an uncomfortable cold front move into the building that affected all of the USF shooters out on the floor.
The drought lasted from the 14:24 mark of the second half until the clock read 7:31 left in the half and watch the lead ballooned from two points to an overwhelming 16 points, as the University of Houston defeated the University of South Florida 70-56, in handing the Bulls their second consecutive loss of the season in the American Athletic Conference.
In the first half, the Bulls found the range early from the floor and started the game with a 6-0 run but the Cougars hung around and found that they could enjoy the warmth of the Sun Dome too if they blistered the nets and they did. Houston shot 50 percent from behind the arch and 53.8 percent from the floor to close out the first half with a 38-34, lead.
The offense for the Cougars finished the game shooting 41.8 percent from the floor and a respectable 45.8 percent from beyond the three-point arch.
After half time, both teams returned to the floor for the second half and both teams felt the coolness of the atmosphere as both teams struggled to find any offense.
Some of the consistency of the game was interrupted by the referee’s whistle as fouls were being called on both teams as defensively play got messy and the tempo of the game was constantly interrupted by fouls being called.
Both teams were whistled 21 times which just bogged down both teams.
With the fouls being called at a premium rate, suddenly the Bulls found themselves in foul trouble as junior guard Geno Thorpe picked up his third foul early in the second half and that changed the complexion of the game for the Bulls.
Thorpe sitting on the bench for most of the second half took away a player with some experience off of the floor and the offense for the Bulls struggled for direction.
USF was led by sophomore guard Troy Holston, he played with a sore knee that was in a brace scored 16 points to lead the Bulls and he played for 33 minutes for Antigua.
“Having to play with the brace is a little challenging but I have to play through it,” Holston said about playing with the brace. “We just competed in the first half and showed that we could keep up with Houston. But in the second half we came out a bit sluggish.”
Helping the Bulls’ offense freshman forward Malik Fitts with 12 points and redshirt freshman forward Tulio Da Silva scored 10 points but he missed a couple of dunks.
“We have to play the whole game all the way through. You have to give Houston credit,” Fitts said. “They played a really good second half and knocked in some key three pointers.”
In the second half the Bulls took seven shots behind the arch and missed them all, shot 23.3 percent from the floor, go 6:07 without a bucket and then watch the Cougars go on a 12-0 run was just too much for the Bulls to overcome.
Leading the Cougars from the floor guards Damyean Dotson and Rob Gray both scored 25 points for Houston and the Cougars out rebounded the Bulls 39-37 which snaps a five.
University of South Florida will continue the American Athletic Conference portion of their schedule Saturday January 7, in the city of Dallas, Texas against Sothern Methodist University, the tipoff is scheduled for 5 p.m.
Antigua is hoping that the tempeture inside Moody Coliseum is a little warmer and so will the shooting of the University of South Florida’s offense.
About the Author
Written by Mel Suiter
Graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 2002 and have been working as a beat writer for The Ypsilanti Courier covering Eastern Michigan University football and men's basketball during my school career and after graduation. I like the Mid-American Conference and the rest of the mid-major conferences.