USF Holds Serve Against DePaul, 71-60

By on January 28, 2011

 Larry D. Lieberman / USF Beat Contributor

 Tampa, Fla. (RSE)– The University of South Florida Bulls did what was expected of them by handing the DePaul Blue Demons a 71-60 defeat on Thursday night at The Sun Dome in Tampa. The announced crowd of 3,465 was treated to the high-flying antics of junior Jawanza Poland, whose pair of thunderous dunks in the second half brought the crowd to its feet as part of a focused all-around effort to shake off the Bulls’ pedestrian showing at West Virginia on Sunday.

 The Bulls were led by junior Hugh Robertson’s 16 points, who was backed by 11 points each by Poland and Toarlyn Fitzpatrick. Their efforts offset another impressive effort by DePaul’s freshman sensation Cleveland Melvin, who posted 17 points to continue his string of 13 consecutive double-digit performances. Junior Krys Faber also pitched in with a respectable, season-high 16 point performance to go with his 6 rebounds.

 In losing the contest, DePaul suffered its 21st straight Big East loss, as well as its 27th consecutive defeat on the road. The young Blue Demons were clearly undermanned and undersized against the Bulls as part of their rebuilding process under new coach Oliver Purnell – and that is clearly a morbid convolution of characteristics for a squad trying to win in America’s toughest college basketball conference.

 The Bulls, on the other hand, seemed buoyed by the opportunity to play a squad who came in struggling – and they looked as confident as they have all season. Their propensity for mental miscues, the bane of their existence all season, seemed to fade from consciousness as they committed a very self-effacing 11 turnovers. Additionally, the Bulls stepped up their game from the 3-point line, hitting 6 of 12 from behind the stripe.

 While USF’s physical advantage formed the foundation for their success in bumping their Big East record to 2-7 (8-14 overall), DePaul’s deficiency in depth was also a contributing factor in the Blue Demons’ slide to 0-8 (6-14 overall). The Bulls outscored the Blue Demons by a stark tally of 26-9 off the bench and a host of USF’s second-line players were key cogs in their 10-0 run in the second half which sealed the game’s outcome.

 South Florida next travels to frost-bitten Rhode Island to meet Providence College, the only other team the Bulls have beaten in Big East competition this season. Providence will serve a true test of the Bulls’ resolve as the Friars will be obsessed with revenge and bouncing high after defeating #15 Louisville and #7 Villanova in back-to-back games this past week. Tip-off is 7 pm this coming Wednesday, February 2nd, which gives the Bulls time to have their arctic wear tailored to specification.

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