Well, USF USFed its way to another USF, USFing to Rutgers 72-68 in Memphis in the opening game of the American Athletic Conference Tournament. It was about the most #USF2014 way to finish a game this season.
This is the perfect game to wrap up and encapsulate the USF season.— Collin Sherwin (@USFCollin) March 13, 2014
With Rutgers leading 70-68 with 3.7 seconds go go, Kadeem Jack missed both free throws, but Victor Rudd failed to box out his man, and Rutgers got the offensive rebound. Rudd fouled, and J.J. Moore hit two free throws to seal the game.
Those last 20 seconds were sadder than the Big East tournament's attendance numbers.— We Take The Stairs (@NoEscalators) March 13, 2014
It was an ignominious end to what had been a great game for Rudd, who had 22 points and 7 rebounds in his final game for the Bulls.
USF finishes its season 12-20, and with three losses to the Scarlet Knights, the Bulls supplied Rutgers (12-20) with 1/4 of their win total.
USF basically exists so Rutgers can feel better about itself.— Fire Hermann and BoG (@ruscoop) March 13, 2014
The first half was back and forth, as the largest lead by either team was six points. Rutgers got up 37-31, but that was followed by a promising jumper by Chris Perry and a dunk by Rudd.
Rutgers went into the half with a 40-37 lead. In the second half, USF came out flat defensively, letting the Rutgers lead bulge to 56-44.
IMO, it's critical #USF plays hard this last 11:28. Gotta show energy, positive body language. People are watching.— Joey Knight (@TBTimes_Bulls) March 13, 2014
The text I just got 😩😫😪😒 pic.twitter.com/75AH2JZ9iH— Young Skywalker (@HoopTillDeath23) March 13, 2014
Mike Patrick: "There's a little more bounce in USF's step right now." ... What I'm talking about. Bulls down 5— Joey Knight (@TBTimes_Bulls) March 13, 2014
The Bulls came out of the under-12 TV timeout on a tear, cutting the lead to 59-58 with about five minutes to go.
Stan Heath inserted a three-guard line-up (with Rudd at power forward) to force Rutgers into four turnovers.
Can I FOIA request a transcript of whatever was said at the under 12 timeout?? #USF— Collin Sherwin (@USFCollin) March 13, 2014
Heath then curiously removed Rudd just before the under-4 TV timeout, ostensibly to get him some rest since he'd just missed two free throws. However, USF looked lost on offense for two possessions, and never got closer than one point away.
USF held Rutgers without a FG for about 6 minutes, but hasn't taken the lead. Rutgers leads 63-58, 3:43 to play. #AmericanChamps— USF Men's Basketball (@USFMBB) March 13, 2014
Despite solid defense down the stretch, a couple bad calls and the dreadful free-throw shooting did USF in. The Bulls shot 20-35 (.571) from the line, while Rutgers shot 22-28 (.786). Yes, Rutgers had only missed two free throws all game until the final seconds. And was hacking every Bulls player with abandon. USF probably could have had 10 more free throws.
A major bright spot in this game was Josh Heath, who had a season-high eight points to go with his seven assists and only two turnovers. He played aggressively, taking the ball to the hoop. He also had two sweet dishes to John Egbunu for easy baskets.
Again, I repeat. I cannot wait to play with josh heath.— Young Skywalker (@HoopTillDeath23) March 13, 2014
Josh Heath playing well down the stretch. His lob to Egbunu for the dunk makes it a 1-pt game. 59-58— USF Men's Basketball (@USFMBB) March 13, 2014
That Heath-Egbunu two-game lob... I mean Jesus if that doesn't give you hope. How is this team so terrible??— Collin Sherwin (@USFCollin) March 13, 2014
The Bulls played well in stretches, did enough to keep it close, but crunch time (along with FT shooting) was a killer again.
I think Ryan summed it up best:
That was so USF that I'm actually kind of impressed.— Ryan T. Smith (@USFRyan) March 13, 2014