By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
TAMPA - The Bulls kept a potent Oklahoma State offense in check, but they couldn't come up with enough firepower to pull off an upset at Gallagher-Iba Arena on Wednesday night.
Victor Rudd scored 14 points and Anthony Collins added 12 more, but USF was held to its lowest scoring total of the season in a 61-49 loss that snapped the Bulls' three-game winning streak. USF (5-3) shot a season-low 34 percent a game after hitting 47 percent of its attempts in a home win over Georgia.
"Defensively you hold a team like that to 40 percent shooting, that's pretty darn good. We did a lot of good things well, especially on the road defensively, but offensively we just couldn't put that ball in the basket," head coach Stan Heath said.
Marcus Smart and Markel Brown combined to score 28 points to help Oklahoma State (6-1) bounce back from a loss at Virginia Tech. Philip Zurick proved to be a difference-maker by grabbing 14 rebounds as the Cowboys edged USF, 41-28, on the boards. Oklahoma State also had a 19-7 advantage in second-chance points.
"I think it was good for us to see where we were against a very good team. We had opportunities," Heath said. "When you look at second-chance points, that was just huge and they handled things on the glass."
A struggle for points at the end started with an early surge for the USF offense.
The Bulls went on a 9-2 run and grabbed an 11-9 lead on a jumper by Collins. The Cowboys called a timeout and answered with a 9-0 run that ended with a 3-pointer by Phil Forte.
USF trailed, 24-19, at halftime but couldn't put together a consistent run after the break against a Cowboys defense that had given up more than 65 points just once this season. Toaryln Fitzpatrick and Jawanza Poland each scored nine points as USF finished 17-for-50 from the field.
"We had transition opportunities and we didn't cash in. We had 3-foot shots we didn't cash in," Heath said. "Then we had some clean looks that didn't fall as well, so we just had a hard time making some shots we've been making at home. That's something we have to do on the road."
The Bulls have almost two weeks to regroup before hosting Youngstown State on Dec. 18 at 7 p.m. USF is 4-2 at the Sun Dome this season.