By ALEX ABRAMS
© St. Petersburg Times, published December 8, 2000
TALLAHASSEE -- Three days after losing in overtime to Furman, Florida State was again embarrassed in Thursday's 69-54 loss to South Florida.
For the second straight game, the Seminoles (1-6) showed a lack of intensity, giving up easy fast-break opportunities and committing 19 turnovers.
"You're always worried coming off a loss like we had on Monday night that our response could be pretty fragile," FSU coach Steve Robinson said. "It's been a tough week."
Freshman Jimmy Baxter, from Boca Ciega, scored 12 points off the bench for South Florida (3-3).
"We needed this game," South Florida coach Seth Greenberg said. "There were two teams that needed a win very badly. I just felt that we had tremendous energy."
FSU point guard Delvon Arrington was stunned by the school's worst start since 1-9 in 1956. The 0-4 home start is FSU's worst since 1957.
"Never in my mind, never in any of our minds," Arrington said. "I think we're just in a big slump right now, and it's just something we have to get over."
South Florida, coming off an 81-72 loss to Fordham, led 9-0, then over 10:14 the Bulls scored 16 points on uncontested layups and dunks to take a 32-11 lead.
FSU failed to defend against the open shot; USF hit 16-of-30 in the first half. The Bulls hustled after loose balls and scored 22 transition points to lead 41-21 at halftime.
"It starts off on the defensive end, and that's where we are lacking at a little bit at times," Arrington said. "It gives them a lead and certain things such as breakaway points and easy points. That hurts us a lot."
The Seminoles, 0-6 when trailing at halftime, could not mount a comeback. FSU's leading scorer, power forward Michael Joiner, got into early foul trouble and scored one point in 18 minutes.
"What hurt was when Michael picked up his third foul," Robinson said. "At that point, we had an idea of how we wanted to attack. He was an essential figure in what we were trying to do, and he picks up his third foul."
South Florida opened its double-digit lead with a 22-14 run over 10:34. Freshman forward Terrence Leather led the Bulls with 12 points, and point guard Sam Sanders, a St. Petersburg native, added 10.
Shooting guard Adrian Crawford hit a free throw with 6:46 remaining to cut FSU's deficit to 65-38.
South Florida had not won in the Leon-County Civic Center since a 56-54 win on Jan. 9, 1985. USF ended a six-game losing streak in Tallahassee.
"We have a philosophy that when people are finished playing against us, they should not want to play us again in the near future," Greenberg said.
With 17:02 remaining in the first half, Arrington's 15-foot jumper gave FSU its first points. Arrington, who finished with 11 points, made three of FSU's five field goals in the first half.
The Seminoles went 5-of-20 in the first half and finished 12-of-44.
Arrington had 11 points and eight turnovers. Freshman shooting guard Andrew Wilson had 11, and center Nigel Dixon had nine points and eight rebounds.
"I think it was a good team win," Greenberg said. "We had a lot of guys step up and make contributions, which is so important. It got a little ugly at the end, but the effort was something that was imperative for us tonight."