The 65-41 loss to Rutgers on Saturday left the Bulls at 0-12, officially eliminated from the conference tournament with four games yet to play. It also effectively means the team will go winless at home in league play, since the final two home games are against UConn and Georgetown in the season's final week.
Ironically, this hasn't been a bad year at all for the senior class at USF. Solomon Jones has been strong underneath and is putting up all-league numbers, while James Holmes got off to a strong start before wearing down in recent weeks.
The problem is that nobody else is really helping. Melvin Buckley has had a solid junior season, but nobody else has been productive offensively. Moreover, with three starters averaging more than 36 minutes and no bench to speak of, the team has really struggled late in games.
If USF is going to win a Big East game, this is the week to do it. The Bulls go on the road to Providence and Rutgers, and have the talent to compete with either team. But it would take the kind of complete, 40-minute effort that has been sorely lacking all year.
Notes and Quotes:
--Senior guard James Holmes continues to slump in the late season. He is shooting 29 percent -- 32-for-109 -- over his last seven games.
--South Florida had all kinds of problems scoring against the Rutgers defense, making just 16 of 46 shots from the floor (34.8 percent). The Scarlet Knights apparently bothered USF at the free throw line as well; South Florida made 18 of its 31 attempts, and was only 3-for-10 in the first half.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I hope guys keep their heads up, focus on getting a win. At the beginning of the season, everyone favored us not to win a game and right now that's the way it's going. Me personally, I want to prove someone wrong. I want to get these last wins, not just one, more than one, as many as I can before the season is over with." -- South Florida center Solomon Jones in the Tampa Tribune.
PLAYER ROTATION: Usual Starters -- C Chris Capko, G James Holmes, F Melvin Buckley, F McHugh Mattis, C Solomon Jones. Key Subs -- G Collin Dennis, F Melvyn Richardson.
Notre Dame 62, South Florida 55
Rutgers 65, South Florida 51
at Providence, Tuesday, Feb. 21.
at Rutgers, Sunday, Feb. 26.
vs. Connecticut, Wednesday, March 1.
vs. Georgetown, Saturday, March 4.
KEYS: The Bulls are not a very confident team right now, but neither Providence nor Rutgers are much better talent-wise than South Florida is. Either team can be had, even on the road, but it will require the best offensive effort of the season for that to happen.
--C Solomon Jones would be a strong candidate for one of all-Big East squads if his team wasn't mired at the bottom of the standings. The senior put forth another solid effort against Rutgers, with 19 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots.
--C Frane Markusovic has played in only two games this season, but cannot be redshirted because one of them was a Jan. 8 loss to Syracuse.
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