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College basketball

Bad start dooms outmanned USF

The Bulls trail 36-11 and lose two players in a 96-63 defeat at Marquette.

By JOE DiGIOVANNI

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 12, 2003


MILWAUKEE -- South Florida wasn't just beaten by Marquette on Saturday. The Bulls barely survived.

Two starters were carried from the court with injuries. With more than 10 minutes left, three Bulls had fouled out, forcing them finish the game with no reservers. On top of that, USF couldn't shoot, control the ball, play effective defense or rebound, allowing Marquette to cruise to a 96-63 victory, its 24th consecutive home victory

"It was probably a little good and a little bad," USF coach Seth Greenberg said. "They were good. We were bad." It was a night the Bulls hope to soon forget. They fell behind 36-11 during the first half in falling to 7-6 overall, 0-2 in Conference USA and 0-5 on the road. The losing margin was the most in nearly six seasons for USF, when it lost 71-36 to Marquette on Jan.30, 1997.

With temperatures in the teens outside, the only thing colder was USF's offense. It shot 27 percent for the game, missing 40 of 57 field goals.

In the first half, USF had 12 turnovers to three assists and was outrebounded 19-11.

Playing Marquette (10-3, 2-1), ranked 24th, is difficult enough at full strength. The Bulls were nowhere close. Junior forward Jimmy Baxter, averaging 13.9 points, did not play until the game was long decided, due to what the Bulls said was conduct detrimental to the team.

Midway through the first half, Marlyn Bryant crashed to the floor and was helped off with a knee injury. He did not return and was on crutches after the game. Freshman Yusef Baker, making his first start in place of Baxter, hit the floor with a sprained left ankle early in the second half and did not return.

Their status is unknown.

"We were kind of beat up and banged up and had to patch things together," Greenberg said. "I don't think our 2-2 zone would have been very good, though."

Will McDonald, the Bulls' leading scorer at 17.7 points, didn't score until two free throws with 1:56 left in the first half. He fouled out with 10:25 left and scored 10 points.

Terrance Leather led USF with a career-high 20 points. Marquette's Dwyane Wade led all scorers with 21.

Marquette shot 53 percent and set a team record for points in a Conference USA game. The Golden Eagles had five players in double figures and outscored USF 35-7 in fastbreak points and 42-16 in the paint.

About the only highlight for USF was Reggie Kohn's five assists, which gave him 537 and moved him ahead of Radenko Dobras into first all-time for USF.

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