Slumping TCU denies USF a series sweep, pulling away for a 75-63 victory.
By JASON HOSKINS
© St. Petersburg Times, published March 9, 2003
FORT WORTH, Texas -- With the Conference USA tournament this week, South Florida was looking to carry some momentum into the postseason.
On paper it looked good for the Bulls, who were playing a TCU team that had one win in its past nine and was last in the conference. The Horned Frogs, however, weren't going down quietly.
South Florida fell to 1-11 on the road when TCU, behind strong play from its seniors, beat the Bulls 75-63 in the regular-season finale Saturday at Daniel Meyer Coliseum.
"We just knew we were going to win," Bulls center Will McDonald said. "Maybe that was the problem."
Looking for a second straight series sweep of the Horned Frogs, South Florida's offense was frustrated by TCU's defense for most of the game.
Behind 36-27 at the half, South Florida (14-13, 7-9), which committed 19 turnovers, made five 3-pointers in the first 12 minutes of the second half to pull within 50-49.
The Horned Frogs (8-19, 3-13) built the lead back to double digits when forward Bingo Merriex hit a 3-pointer to beat the shot clock and Corey Santee hit two free throws to make it 62-51 with 4:14 left.
"We just weren't good offensively," Bulls coach Seth Greenberg said. "We never got into a flow."
Things got worse for the Bulls when forward Yusuf Baker fouled out with almost 10 minutes left. Baker had nine points and 11 rebounds.
Baker's early exit was one of several problems for the Bulls' inside game.
The Horned Frogs' post players have had trouble against taller opponents, but they dominated the Bulls for most of the game. They outscored the Bulls 26-24 in the paint and had 15 offensive rebounds to USF's 14.
"They were pursuing offensive rebounds," McDonald said. "They just got to the boards quicker."
McDonald, who went into the game with four straight double doubles and five straight double-digit scoring games, had nine points and seven rebounds.
McDonald wasn't the only Bulls scorer hindered by the Horned Frogs. In the previous meeting with TCU, South Florida's Reggie Kohn led the way with 21 points, but Saturday the Horned Frogs defense focused on Kohn and allowed the guard to score only five in the first half.
"They didn't do anything special on defense," Kohn said. "I can't say why we lost but it's not because the effort wasn't there."
Kohn, who finished with 13 points, has had many memorable nights against the Horned Frogs. He has his career highs in scoring with 30 and assists with 14 against TCU. Saturday he became the school's all-time leader in 3-point shooting with his third of the game five minutes into the second half. He has 245 for his career.
TCU had three players finish in double digits, led by seniors Junior Blount with 19 and Merrriex with 18.
The two were playing their last game as Horned Frogs.
Greenberg said he isn't worried about the team going into the conference tournament this week in Louisville. South Florida plays DePaul in the first round at 1 p.m. Wednesday.