TAMPA -- Losing 55-44 to the No. 7 Syracuse Orange wasn’t all negative for Stan Heath and the USF Men’s basketball team.
USF (9-4, 0-1 in Big East) was out-rebounded 43-26 and is now 0-4 when being out-rebounded. That for sure needs to improve as the Bulls get into the bulk of their schedule. USF also had 17 turnovers in the game, which ranks among the worst in the country.
However, USF did some things to prove that the Bulls are ready to compete against their own conference.
“We didn't shoot well, but they didn't shoot well either and I told our team, we beat them in every percentage offensive area, but the offensive rebounds was just ridiculous," Heath said.
Syracuse (14-1, 2-0 in Big East) didn't get its first lead until 3:26 was left in the first half, thanks to an aggressive attack in the paint by the Bulls. USF’s offense was also clicking, including three dunks from Victor Rudd Jr. who sunk his first four shots.
In the second half, Syracuse posed problems with its famed 2-3 zone defense, but USF’s defense was no slouch against one of the most talented teams in the country.
USF had one of its best games of the season defensively. The Bulls held Syracuse to a season-low 55 points, which is almost 30 points shy of the Oranges’ points scored per game.
A usual nightmare point guard, Syracuse’s Michael Carter-Williams was held to an anemic four points.
USF was within five points twice in the final minutes of the game against Syracuse. With six minutes left, the Bulls only trailed the Orange 47-42. Against the No. 7 team in the country, that is not an easy task. However, with a few shot clock violations and fouls, the Orange then took over.
The Bulls continue Big East play Wednesday night when they host Villanova.
Last season, USF was 12-6 in the Big East. On pace for more wins than last season, the Bulls could give conference teams some trouble by the time the Big East Tournament comes around.