Not much was expected from the South Florida Bulls this year in terms of competing in the AAC or even qualifying for the NCAA tournament. With that being said, nobody expected this team to turn around and lose at home to South Carolina State either. Coming in with a 3-4 record, South Florida basketball needed a win to not only get back to .500, but to get their season back on the rails.
In what to this point was arguably their most important game of the season, USF took down Austin Peay by a score of 60-51. While Austin Peay may not seem like a test with their 4-4 record coming into Tuesday's game, they did knock off the Dayton Flyers on the road. That is the same Dayton team that knocked off the then-No. 4 Kansas Jayhawks under a week later. It was far from pretty, but the Bulls were able to step up to the plate when it mattered on the way to their fourth win of the season.
South Florida Basketball Back to .500 With Win Over Austin Peay
Bulls Shooting Bricks
If you are a fan of high-octane offenses, this game was not your cup of tea. Both teams shot extremely poorly from the field. However, UFC may have set the bar for the most ridiculously bad three-point shooting to this point in the season. While the Bulls did shoot just under 40% overall, they shot barely over 13% from behind the arc. Every team has their off days, but this was something else entirely.
Unfortunately for the Bulls, this is no fluke. Going into this game, South Florida basketball averages just over 25% from deep as a team. Only two players on the roster average more than just 30% shooting from downtown. Those two players are forward Jalyn McCreary and guard Javon Greene. As good as those two have proven to be at times, somebody else needs to start hitting the three-ball on the team.
When this team faces stiff defense from conference opponents like Cincinnati and Houston, they will need somebody to step up. If anybody takes away the deep shot from Greene or McCreary, or even if they just happen to have an off night, USF will struggle to score 60.
For the majority of the game, USF struggled mightily at the free throw line. For the first 36 minutes of the game, the Bulls shot just 8/14 from the free throw line. No matter who you play in Division I basketball, 57% from the stripe is not going to cut it. Their poor shooting from the line is why Austin Peay was able to hang around for most of the game. At around the four-minute mark, however, the lid came off the basket for USF.
From the four-minute mark on, USF was 12/15 (80%) from the free throw line. In close games, the best way to lose a lead and give away a game is to leave free points behind. Whatever was stopping South Florida from making their free throws disappeared and helped them secure their fourth victory of the season. While it may seem like just a small victory and nothing more, we’ve seen AAC teams, specifically Memphis, struggle to make shots from the line. If USF can get hot and continue to knock down shots from the stripe, they’re more than capable of knocking some top dogs off in the AAC.