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Bulls fall to familiar foe, 79-68

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An old rival dropped by the Sun Dome to visit the USF Bulls on Saturday and came away with a victory. The University of Alabama-Birmingham Blazers, who faced USF many times in their old Sun Belt Conference days, defeated the Bulls, 79-68.

Both teams shot the ball well, but key factors led to the Blazer victory. USF turned the ball over 19 times to only 8 for UAB and the Blazers made some key three pointers that made the difference.

“Our kids are battling,” said USF Coach Orlando Antigua. “But we have to have more possessions of third, fourth, fifth effort and we have to take care of the ball.”

With UAB leading 37-34, Robert Brown made a three-pointer to take the lead to 40-34 with 2:53 left in the first half. USF would not score again and trailed 44-34 at the break.

After the Bulls scored the first four points of the second half, Nick Norton canned another long one from behind the arc that restored control back to UAB. The lead reached 17 at 64-47 with 10:16 remaining. USF would get no closer than 12 the rest of the way.

Angel Nunez led the Bulls with 18 points, including four of 7 behind the three-point arc. Jahmal McMurray had 14 and Ruben Guerrero tallied 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Brown led UAB with 23 points, including four three pointers in 7 attempts. William Lee had 11 points off the bench and Norton added 10.

Alabama-Birmingham (8-3) found a way to win despite being outrebounded 36-26, missing 11 of 23 free throws and having USF shoot 49 percent from the field. The Bulls shot only 7 free throws the entire game.

The Bulls fall to 3-9 on the season and have lost 6 of their 9 home games. The Blazers have now won 5 in a row.

USF travels to Newark, New Jersey on Tuesday to take on the 9-2 Seton Hall Pirates.

Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at Bob@ramos-sparks.com.

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