VCU puts an end to the USF season. The magical season comes to an end but South Florida is here to stay as a basketball power so get used to winning.

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South Florida Bulls during a men's basketball game against the University of Central Florida Knights on March 19, 2024. (Mary Holt/South Florida Basketball)

Historic USF Men’s Basketball Season Comes to an End in NIT Second Round

South Florida won a program-record 25 games

TAMPA, Fla. (March 24, 2024) – The historic season for the University of South Florida men’s basketball team comes to an end in the NIT second round with a 70-65 loss against VCU on Sunday. Chris Youngblood produced a game-high 28 points.

With the loss, USF fell to 25-8 on the year, while VCU improved to 24-13 on the season. South Florida recorded a program-record 25 wins during the first season of the Amir Abdur-Rahim era of Bulls basketball. USF played in front of 6,398, which was the fifth time the Bulls played in front of 6,000 or more this season.

Kasean Pryor opened the game with USF’s first seven points, including an emphatic slam dunk off an offensive rebound from Brandon Stroud. The Bulls trailed the Rams 9-8 at the first media timeout.

South Florida responded with a 9-5 run and took a 17-14 lead with 11:43 left in the half. Corey Walker Jr. capped off the run with a slam dunk off a dime from Sam Hines Jr. The Rams answered with a 7-2 run and took a 21-19 lead at the third media timeout. The Bulls were unfazed and outscored the Rams, 9-7, over the next five minutes of play. USF and VCU were tied 28-28. During that stretch, Pryor recorded a steal at midcourt and took it the distance for the dunk despite being fouled. He converted the and-1.

The Rams took a 32-30 lead into the break.

Chris Youngblood knocked down a 3-pointer to open the second half. VCU went on a 10-4 run and took a 42-37 lead at the first media timeout in the second half. The two sides each made a basket over the next three minutes, which made the score 44-39. The Rams outscored the Bulls 6-4 and extended their lead to 50-43 with 10:51 left in the second half.

The Bulls outscored the Rams 7-6 and cut the deficit to 56-50 with 7:36 left in the second half. During that span, Jayden Reid accounted for five of the USF points. The Bulls answered once again and cut the deficit to one, 60-59, with just over four minutes to play. Reid knocked down a 3-pointer and sent the Yuengling Center into a frenzy.

The comeback bid was halted as VCU ended the game outscoring USF 10-6 on its way to a 70-65 victory.

Youngblood led all scorers with 28 points, his 27th game in double digits and his eighth with 20 or more. His 28 points are the third-most by a USF player in the NIT. He added six rebounds and two assists. Pryor recorded his 13th double-double behind 14 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. He dished out a team-high three assists and had one steal. Stroud brought down nine rebounds to go along with three points, two assists, and one steal.

Defensively, USF held VCU’s leading scorer, Max Shulga, to just five points which is well below his season average of 14.5 points a game. The Bulls were strong on the glass and outrebounded the Rams 38-33. The 15 offensive rebounds led to 15 second-chance points. South Florida produced more points in the paint than VCU by a 32-28 margin. 

Zeb Jackson led the Rams with 14 points, while Sean Bairstow added 13 points. Christian Fermin and Toibu Lawal both added 10 points. Bairstow led VCU with six rebounds. Bairstow and Shulga tied for a game-high four assists.

Notables

· South Florida recorded a program-record 25 wins during the first season of the Amir Abdur-Rahim era of Bulls basketball.

· Chris Youngblood led all scorers with 28 points, his 27th game in double digits and his eighth with 20 or more. His 28 points are the third-most by a USF player in the NIT. He added six rebounds and two assists.

· Kasean Pryor recorded his 13th double-double behind 14 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. He dished out three assists and had one steal.

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About USF Men’s Basketball

The South Florida men’s basketball team is led by Amir Abdur-Rahim, who was named the 11th head coach in program history on March 29, 2023. Abdur-Rahim was named the 2023 Mid-Major Coach of the Year (Hugh Durham Award) after leading Kennesaw State to its first-ever Division I NCAA Tournament berth in 2022-23. Abdur-Rahim’s Kennesaw State team set an NCAA record as the fastest team to ever reach the NCAA Tournament after a one-win campaign, accomplishing the feat in a span of just three seasons. He was also named the 2022-23 NABC District 3 and ASUN Coach of the Year after leading Kennesaw State to both the regular season and tournament titles, and a school-record 26 wins.
 
USF has retired three numbers in its history: Chucky Atkins (12), Charlie Bradley (30), and Radenko Dobras (31). The Bulls have earned three NCAA tournament bids, appeared in the NIT eight times, and won the 2019 College Basketball Invitational.
 
For tickets, contact the USF Ticket Office at 1-800-Go-Bulls or by going online to 
USFBullsTix.com. Season tickets for the 2023-24 USF men’s basketball slate are on sale now. To purchase season tickets, click here.