The effort and energy was there for the home team on Wednesday day night, but in the end, it was the same result as South Florida (7-14, 1-7) lost their second game of the season to SMU (17-4, 8-1) 63-52. The loss brings the Bulls’ losing streak to a season high six games.
The Bulls entered the contest with the sudden news that sophomore forward Chris Perry will be out indefinitely due to chest pains. Perry previously missed the matchup at Uconn and will continue to be day to day according to Coach Orlando Antigua. Despite this loss, USF was able to jump quickly out the gate with a 9-2 lead in the first five minutes of action and forced several Mustang turnovers that set the tone for the early portion of the game. Stepping up big for the Bulls once again were starters Corey Allen Jr. and Nehemias Morillo. Both supplied 18 points apiece while Morillo in particular has elevated his game offensively. He is averaging 14.5 points per game in the last four contests and tied his career high tonight against SMU. Meanwhile, the absence of Perry allowed the Bo Zeigler and Jaleel Cousins to provide a presence inside. Starting in his second straight contest, Zeigler offered 6 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists before getting into foul trouble. It was then that Cousins came off the bench and played his best game of the season. The younger brother of Sacramento Kings star DeMarcus Cousins came up with 6 points, 10 rebounds, 2 blocks, and provided the energy Antigua has been looking for all season long. After the game, Cousins described his effort. “I just simply cleared my mind when I went out on the court and played aggressively.”
Yet, despite the early deficit, SMU was able to correct their mistakes by the end of the first half, win the rebounding battle, and take a lead into the half that they never relinquished. The Mustangs were led by forward Markus Kennedy, who came off the bench and posted a career high 22 points and 7 rebounds in the victory. Afterwards, legendary coach SMU coach Larry Brown had high praise for Orlando Antigua’s club. “Last year, this is a game we wouldn’t have won. They battled and kept in it the whole game.” When speaking of the prospect of the future for Antigua and the Bulls, Brown had this to say. “They are a sleeping giant. I truly believe Orlando’s the guy to get the job done here in Tampa.”
For USF, it doesn’t get any easier as their next battle is Saturday at conference leading Tulsa.