TAMPA, Fla. - TaShawn Thomas scored 13 points to lead Houston to a 67-58 victory over South Florida on Saturday.
Danrad Knowles and Tione Womack each had 12 points and Jherrod Stiggers finished with 11 for Houston. The Cougars (10-5) improved to 2-0 in the American Athletic Conference, coming in off an upset of No. 17 Connecticut on New Year’s Eve.
Martino Brock had 11 points and Chris Perry added 10 to pace South Florida (9-6, 0-2), which has dropped four of five games since an 8-2 start.
USF, which never led after scoring the first four points of the game, failed to convert all 10 of its 3-point attempts en route to a 34-26 halftime deficit. The Bulls also had seven shots blocked and committed half of their 16 turnovers before the break.
“The turnovers have got to come down quite a bit. That’s the biggest thing,” USF coach Stan Heath said. “We had 10 steals in our previous game that we gave up that led to so many baskets for Memphis. This game was still extremely high. In a game where it’s seven, eight, nine points, those possessions matter big.”
After missing 26 shots in a row from long range in a span of three games, South Florida broke through midway through the second half on a 3-pointer by Musa Abdul-Aleem. The Bulls hit four more to finish 5 for 21.
“Simply, if you just go three out of 10, which is not a great percentage, all of a sudden you get nine points out of those 3s and we’ve got a one-point lead at halftime,” Heath said. “It’s hard when you’re not getting outside shots to fall.”
Thomas became the 13th player in school history to record at least 1,100 points and 700 rebounds with his four rebounds.
Houston coach James Dickey applauded his junior forward for joining a group that includes the likes of Elvin Hayes, Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon, but he was left wanting more production off the glass from Thomas on Saturday.
“Looking at his stat line, that would be the one thing I would criticize,” Dickey said. “He needs to do better. He needs to have more than four rebounds. But any milestone that he reaches, he certainly is very deserving.”
USF starting point guard Anthony Collins, a Houston native, missed his fifth consecutive game with swelling and tendinitis in his surgically repaired left knee.
Houston played without three injured starters - forward J.J. Richardson and guards Daniel House and L.J. Rose.