The USF men’s basketball team is on a winning streak, grabbing a 76-60 win on the road against the Southern Illinois University Salukis. The win marks the fourth consecutive for the Dons, bringing them to a 4-0 record on the season, with the win on Saturday being the Dons’ first away from War Memorial Gym this season.
The Dons jumped out to an early lead against the Salukis, building a 9-0 advantage thanks to freshman Josh Kunen’s fast start. The Salukis regrouped and brought the score within four, but the Dons went on another run and ended the first half with a 7-point cushion (38-31).
Starting out the second half, the Salukis once again mounted a small comeback, bringing the Dons’ lead back to only four yet again (43-39). After this, the game got out of hand. The Dons got hot, going on a 16-2 run to finally put the game out of reach for the Salukis, including an ankle-breaking 3-point shot by sophomore Khalil Shabazz. He ended the night with 13 points, one of three Dons to finish the night in double figures (seniors Jordan Ratinho and Jimbo Lull finished with 15 and 11, respectively). Ratinho also hit a collegiate career milestone, going over 1,000 points in his tenure at USF, while Lull made his first career 3-point attempt.
The game also saw all nine Dons who took the court score at least three points, emphasizing their balanced attack this season. The Dons bench scored 27 points, and the team capitalized on second-chance opportunities, finishing with 19. This was due in no small part to the Dons domination in the paint, finishing at a +16 differential in rebounds, with three Dons, junior Jamaree Bouyea (nine), Lull (eight), and Kunen (eight), finishing with eight or more rebounds. In total, the Dons finished with 36 points in the paint and continued their bruising style of play.
For the Salukis, Aaron Cook was the only player to score double digits, finishing with 13 points on 50% shooting from the field. The rest of Southern Illinois struggled to score consistently from the field, finishing the night a combined 22 for 48 (45.8%) and five for 14 from beyond the arc (35.7%).
The Dons will put their win streak on the line again on Nov. 19 at War Memorial Gym vs. California State University, Fullerton.