Jacksonville Sports Day

USF Bulls Open The American Championship With Memphis Rematch

ORLANDO – The USF Bulls head into the first round of the Aaron’s American Athletic Conference Championship on Thursday riding a high after a two-game winning streak and some accolades in the days that have followed.

The Bulls (10-21, 3-15 AAC) have a rematch with Memphis on Thursday at 2 p.m. to open the conference championship. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU. USF faced the Tigers just one week ago, last Thursday, and handed Memphis their worst home loss in the history of the FedEx Forum and their worst home loss in any building since 1999, 75-51.

The Bulls followed up their triumph in Tennessee with a big win in the regular season finale on Sunday, defeating SMU at home, 65-54. The back-to-back victories gave the Bulls double digit wins for the first time since the 2013-14 season, and gave them back-to-back conference wins for the first time since 2016.

The Bulls will look to extend the streak to three games on Thursday. Should they succeed, the Bulls would have a three game winning streak in conference for the first time since 2012, when the team made it to the NCAA Tournament.

Since wrapping up the regular season on Sunday, a couple of Bulls have taken home conference honors. Malik Martin was named to the American Athletic Conference weekly honor roll for the second time this season. In the 2-0 week for USF, Martin led the team in both scoring and rebounding, averaging 17.0 points and 7.5 boards per game.

Martin made 15-of-19 attempts from the field and knocked down 3-of-4 shots from three. His best game of the week came in Memphis, when he posted 19 points and nine rebounds. The 19 points are his second-most this season, behind his double-double against Arkansas State on Nov. 24.

Freshman David Collins (Youngstown, Ohio) picked up a pair of accolades this week. Collins was named the final Rookie of the Week in the American following his career-high tying 21 points against SMU. He scored 18 of the 21 points in the second half, the most points posted by a Bull in any half this season. He finished 7-of-12 from the field and made a career-high three threes in the game.

Collins was also named to The American All-Rookie team on Monday, recognizing his strong freshman campaign. Collins has been on a tear of late, scoring double-digit points in eight of the last nine games. Over that span, he is averaging a team-high 14.1 points per game and shooting 50.6 percent (39-for-77) from the field, 52 percent (13-for-25) from three, and 87.8 percent (36-for-41) from the free throw line. Read more about Collins’ fantastic freshman season here.

USF faces Memphis (19-12, 10-8 AAC) for the third time this season in the opening round of the conference tournament. Memphis took the first matchup in Tampa, 86-74, on Jan. 31 before the Bulls avenged the loss with a 75-51, wire-to-wire victory in Memphis last Thursday.

Malik Martin and Payton Banks starred for the Bulls in the game, scoring a game-high 19 points each. Martin had nine rebounds, including three on the offensive end, and was 8-of-10 from the floor. Banks had seven boards, four steals and was 6-of-11 from the field.

Banks also reached a career milestone in the game, surpassing 1,000 points with his 16th point of the night, which came on a basket with 12:07 remaining in the second half.

Isaiah Manderson posted his second career double-double, scoring 10 points with a career-high 11 rebounds. Stephan Jiggetts added 12 points and five assists and did not turn the ball over once in 38 minutes. For the Tigers, Kyvon Davenport posted a double-double, scoring 17 points with 10 rebounds. Jimario Rivers was the only other Memphis player in double figures, scoring 11 points.

Memphis closed out their season on Sunday at home, defeating ECU, 90-70. In that game, Kareem Brewton Jr. led the Tigers, scoring 22 points with four rebounds and six assists. The Tigers remain without Jeremiah Martin, who leads the team in points and assists. Martin is out for the season after undergoing foot surgery in February.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *