It looked good after 20 minutes. USF (5-3) and VCU (4-3) were tied at 28 and the Bulls were holding tough against the tough VCU full court press.
Then the second half hit.
VCU raced out on an 11-3 run to start the second half and never looked back, taking care of the Bulls 69-46 at the Verizon Wireless Center. Troy Daniels had 17 points off the bench to lead all scorers, while Bradford Burgess, Rob Brandenberg, and Darius Theus each scored in double figures. Ron Anderson Jr. had 15 points to lead the Bulls, while Victor Rudd had 10 points.
Shaka Smart's 40 minutes of havoc took its toll on the Bulls in the second half. While the Rams were still fresh well into the second half, the Bulls' lack of depth finally showed for the first time all season. USF looked sluggish on both sides of the court, and the Rams were able to take full advantage.
VCU went 8-14 for three in the second half, getting the open looks they weren't finding in the first 20 minutes. Daniels in particular took advantage, going 5-9 from distance. Even when the Bulls were able to defend the three, the Rams and in particular Theus were able to penetrate the lane with ease and find the open basket.
The Bulls' offense was slowed all night by the VCU press. When the Bulls were finally able to run their offense, there wasn't enough time left on the shot clock to get a quality look for most of the possessions. When the Bulls were able to find a quality look, the players were so fatigued that they couldn't finish.
Some quick thoughts:
- I was actually shocked the Bulls only had 15 turnovers tonight. Thought there were at least 20.
- Was a little surprised that Heath basically went with a 6 person rotation for the game. With the Rams high pressure defense, I would have assumed that Stan would have extended his bench and used more of Shaun Noriega and LaVonte Dority tonight. Shaun Noriega had only 6 minutes on the night, while Dority only played a single minute.
- Not the best night for LaBlanthony Conasity. Anthony Collins had a tough time breaking the press tonight. While 4 points, 2 rebounds, and 6 assists is a nice scoreline, the 6 turnovers is a big red flag. Blake Nash had a tough time getting anything going on the offensive end, going 0-7 on the night.
- The Bulls were actually manhandled on the boards as well, being outrebounded by VCU 34-27. Juvonte Reddic and D.J. Haley were able to do a good job creating second chance opportunities for the Rams grabbing 14 offensive rebounds as a team.
- Toarlyn Fitzpatrick took a nasty fall in the second half that looked serious, but he was thankfully able to come back later in the game. I don't think the Bulls could have used another injury right now.
Augustus Gilchrist was able to dress tonight, but was only on emergency duty. He will be able to go this Saturday.
The Bulls will continue their mini roadtrip as they head to Lawrence to face #14 Kansas this Saturday.