Mon, 19 Apr 2021

South Florida has tall task vs. surging Memphis

Field Level Media
02 Mar 2021, 12:19 GMT+10

As South Florida prepares for its second meeting with visiting Memphis on Tuesday, the Tampa school is looking to correct a defense that was downright offensive on Sunday.

The then-No. 12 Houston Cougars pounded the Bulls 98-52. USF trailed by 35 at the half and were outscored by 11 more in the second half in the 46-point romp.

Houston made 15 of 33 three-pointers, produced 27 assists and turned the ball over just five times.

As bad as the defensive effort was by USF (8-10, 4-8 American), the offensive showing was equally disappointing.

The Bulls shot just 37 percent from the field -- a far cry from Houston's 60 percent -- and couldn't match the Cougars' sizzling offense led by Quentin Grimes, who scored 16 consecutive points during one stretch of his 22-point performance.

"You got to make every shot you take against them when you're open," said USF coach Brian Gregory, whose side has lost five of its last six games. "In that first half, we had some good looks at some 3s, just weren't able to finish. They took advantage of it."

South Florida entered the Houston contest ranked 15th nationally in offensive rebounds, pulling down 13.2 per game. The group grabbed 13 against the Cougars but produced only nine second-chance points.

The Bulls have now dropped 32 straight games against ranked opponents -- last winning at then-No. 19 Louisville 58-51 on Feb. 29, 2012.

Memphis (14-6, 10-3) notched its fifth consecutive victory Sunday by winning 80-74 at Cincinnati -- the Tigers' first win there since 2007 -- after a recent 10-day pause due to COVID-19.

Coach Anfernee Hardaway's club holds a two-game lead over fourth-place SMU with two games left on the schedule, including Sunday's season finale against Houston in Memphis.

The Tigers hunkered down and beat the Bearcats without point guard Alex Lomax, who injured his ankle Saturday in practice.

"I couldn't be more proud of the guys with us having to take that gut punch yesterday with A-Lo hurting his ankle," Hardaway said. "It just seemed like all the lights went out when he went down. But I had all the confidence in my team. I knew we had more than enough to finish the job and come here and win."

In Memphis' 58-57 win over USF on Dec. 29, Lester Quinones sank a 3-pointer with 67 seconds left to lift the Tigers.

Quinones scored a team-high 13 points, while Deandre Williams added 12 and Landers Nolley II had 10.

--Field Level Media

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