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Catastrophic start dooms Bulls to 10th loss

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For three quarters of Saturday’s game against Seton Hall, the South Florida Bulls played the Pirates fairly even. It was the first 10 minutes that set the tone for the Bulls’ 66-49 defeat in Newark, New Jersey.

During the opening 10 minutes, USF missed their first 9 shots, plus two free throws. Making matters worse, they turned the ball over 6 times. It was 14-0 before Jahmal McMurray hit a three-pointer with 9:59 remaining in the half.

After the nightmarish start, the Bulls played the Pirates even the remainder of the half, trailing 33-19 at the break.

Seton Hall stretched the lead to 51-34 with 8:26 remaining. The Bulls got to within 56-44 on a Bo Zingler layup with 4:50 left, but got no closer.

They missed their last 7 shots the rest of the way, only managing 5 free throws. Since digging the 14-point hole early in the game, Seton Hall outscored the Bulls by only 52-49.

“It’s hard to give any team that kind of a lead and expect to win the game,” said Bulls’ coach Orlando Antigua. “Once we settled down, we had three turnovers the rest of the half and in the second half we had only 6 turnovers.”

The Bulls were led in scoring by Angel Nunez with 19 points followed by McMurray’s 10. A big concern for Antigua and the rest of the Bulls is the funk in which Jaleel Cousins finds himself.

One of USF’s leading scorers, Cousins has scored a grand total of two points in his last two games, missing 7 of his 8 shots taken. Both of those points came on Saturday.

Angel Delgado led the Pirates with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Veer Singh added 12 points off the bench.

The Bulls wound up shooting 34 percent from the field and committed 15 turnovers. Seton Hall shot 42 percent and turned the ball over only 8 times.

USF (3-10) opens American Athletic Conference play on December 30 when they welcome the Houston Cougars to the Sun Dome.

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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