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USF Leads Early, Falls at No. 17 SMU, 72-58


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USF ATHLETICS GoUSFBulls.com

 

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USF Leads Early, Falls at No. 17 SMU, 72-58

Freshman Jahmal McMurray leads all players with 17 points

 

DALLAS, JAN. 2, 2016  USF trailed by three points midway through the second half, but a scoring drought of nearly nine minutes denied the Bulls at the chance of an upset in a 72-58 loss at No. 17 SMU on Saturday.

A dunk by senior forward Angel Nunez capped off a 7-0 run by USF (3-12, 0-2 The American) as the Bulls trailed 49-46 with 12:54 remaining in the game. However, the Bulls, who shot 42.6 percent from the field in the game, were unable to find the bottom of the net until a Jahmal McMurray 3-pointer at the 4:02 mark. During that drought, preseason conference favorite SMU (13-0, 2-0) scored 13 points to push its lead to 62-46.

“A big difference in the game was that lull in the second half where we couldn’t get any baskets and we turned the ball over a few times,” said head coach Orlando Antigua. “We have to execute and stick with what we are having success with. SMU had something to do with that as well. They crashed the boards and got second and third opportunities and we didn’t. We weren’t physical enough in the second half.”

McMurray led the Bulls with 17 points by going 7-of-16 from the field including three 3-pointers. The freshman went toe-to-toe with reigning conference player of the year Nic Moore and held the senior on 3-of-11 shooting. Moore was 5-of-8 from the free throw line and finished with 13 points.

The Bulls led by as many as seven points, 15-8, nearly six minutes into the game. SMU took the lead for good with a Sterling Brown 3-pointer with 7:49 remaining in the half. USF made its last five field goal attempts of the first half and trailed 33-30 at halftime. USF shot 50 percent from the field in the first half, its second consecutive game shooting at least 50 percent in the first.

“I hope we get some confidence from the defensive effort that we showed, especially in the first half,” said Antigua. “We have to build off of that. We didn’t have as many turnovers, but we gave them 20 points off those turnovers. Twelve or fewer turnovers was our goal entering the game and that’s what we finished with.”

Sophomore Bo Zeigler had his best game of the season with a season-high 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting and had two of USF’s five blocked shots. Junior forward Chris Perry had 12 points, six rebounds and a team-high four assists. Senior Jaleel Cousins scored 10 points and had eight rebounds.

SMU shot 41.1 percent and was held to 6-of-23 from 3-point range. One of the biggest difference in the game came from the free throw line where the Bulls made 8-of-11 and the Mustangs were 20-for-26. SMU took care of the ball with 17 assists to just eight turnovers.

“That’s a really good, well-coached team,” said Antigua of SMU, one of four undefeated teams in the country. “They are undefeated for a reason. They share the ball, they move the ball and they rebound well.”

USF will next be in action on Wednesday when it takes on rival UCF in Orlando at 7 p.m. The Bulls then return to the Sun Dome for a two-game homestand. It all starts with a test against Cincinnati on Sunday, Jan. 10 at noon before USF hosts Tulane on Tuesday, Jan. 12 at 7 p.m.Reserve your seats at USFBullsTix.com.

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