Nebraska holds a 46-27 rebound edge and rolls past USF 75-52.
By JOHN MABRY
Published December 7, 2003
LINCOLN, Neb. - South Florida still is in its formative stage under new coach Robert McCullum, and it's unlikely it knows any more about its identity after Saturday's 75-52 loss to Nebraska at the Devaney Center.
Through four games, South Florida (3-2) had been strong in shooting and rebounding and weak in ball-handling. That's not how it went against the Huskers.
The Bulls committed fewer turnovers (19-13) but were dominated on the boards, outrebounded 46-27. The Huskers (4-0) also shot better from the field, 48.1 percent to 32.1 percent, and the Bulls made just 2 of 19 3-pointers.
"It's one of those games where your worst fears come true," McCullum said. "You know the areas where your team is the weakest, and you just hope that something happens so they don't exploit it. But they were able to exploit our weaknesses.
"Nebraska is a good team, an experienced team. And the physical strength of the team really showed. (Nebraska's strength) was one of our concerns going into the game."
The game started rough for USF when senior Jimmy Baxter threw away a pass on the first possession. USF, which beat Nebraska 65-60 last season in Tampa, never led. The closest the Bulls got was 18-15 after a jump shot by Marlyn Bryant with 12 minutes left in the first half.
Guard Nate Johnson gave the Huskers a lift early. He made a 3-pointer that put Nebraska ahead 21-15 with 10:53 left. He later scored on consecutive possessions, putting the Huskers up 26-17 with 5:45 left.
Baxter cut the lead to 28-21 with a jump shot with 3:52 left, but USF did not get any closer.
Junior forward Terrence Leather led the Bulls with 12 points and seven rebounds. Junior guard Brian Swift added 10 points.
Baxter, who finished 3-for-12 from the field, was one of three players with eight points.
Johnson and forward Andrew Drevo led Nebraska with 11 points.
USF's lack of depth showed as its bench was outscored 35-10 by Nebraska's bench. The Bulls did make 14 of 18 free throws.
"Our only bright spot was free-throw shooting," McCullum said. "We shot free throws well, and we actually had fewer turnovers than we've had all year. But they're a stronger team.
"A number of times, we tried to get the ball to players in a position where we thought we could score, whether it be posting up or driving. And they just wouldn't allow us to catch the ball where we wanted to catch it."