Bulls’ Character on Display in Win over Charlotte

Ken Cross

February 10, 2024 at 11:18 am.

TAMPA, Fla. – The mental toughness and extra effort of the South Florida Bulls have become recurring themes in what has been a surprising season as 40 minutes of toughness has become noted features of the team.

USF redefined this characterization as the Bulls came from 17 points down to upend the Charlotte 49ers, 72-69, in Yuengling Center earlier this week.

Trailing Charlotte, 63-48, with 11:22 left in the game, the idea of “down, but not out,” did not dip to an undesirable level as the Bulls once again came up strong in the clutch of the second half. The win broke one part of a three-way tie with Florida Atlantic for first place in the AAC.

Bulls guard Selton Miguel led USF with 22 points as he repeatedly found driving lanes and was able to score or pick up numerous Charlotte fouls and netted 13-of-14 free throws in the win.

“Selton has been the model of consistency,” said Bulls head coach Amir Abdur-Rahim. “He’s what I want in a player. Any player we recruit, he’s what I want. He’s got ability, can really play the game, understands how to play the game. Anything you ask him to do, he does.”

The Bulls’ defense was at the front of the come-from-behind win when USF hit an 11-0 run midway through the second half to cut the deficit to 63-59. The same powerful defensive punch appeared again at the end when South Florida held the 49ers scoreless for the final 5:07.

“That last part of the game takes us to a whole other level,” said Bulls guard Chris Youngblood, a team leader, who finished with 13 points. “It doesn’t have to do with talent; it’s who wants it more. I guarantee you as a group, we are going to want it more.”

Brandon Stroud gave South Florida its first lead at 70-69 with 29 seconds remaining as he made a driving layup after missing a pair of free throws just 19 seconds earlier that would have given the Bulls their first advantage.

“I have been playing with B-Stroud since high school and I never really worry about him responding,” explained Youngblood. “There is one thing about B-Stroud, you never know how down he’s going to get. He might be down on himself. He’s going to give you his heart and play his heart out, regardless.”

The Bulls’ depth allowed them to outscore Charlotte, 30-9, from the bench and it also allowed them to carry an 18-7 advantage on the offensive glass.

“As proud as I am of Selton Miguel, I am just as proud of Corey Walker,” said Abdur-Rahim. “I give a lot of credit to Coach (Brian) Gregory. He had those guys for a couple of years and then it’s not an easy thing to have a coaching change. All they have done is everything we have asked them to do.”

The resiliency of both South Florida and Charlotte throughout the season has been one of the top stories in the game as neither was expected to challenge Florida Atlantic or Memphis, which has fallen of late.

“Those two teams that just played tonight, one was picked ninth, and the other was picked 13th,” noted Abdur-Rahim. “This league is a bear. It’s a lot of really good players and some dang good coaches.”


“You can’t wait until you get down for your pride to come out.”

Abdur-Rahim talked about this quote as he attributed it to Coach Todd Bozeman, who coached his brother, Shareef, a prime player at Cal from 1990-1996. Bozeman led the Bears to the NCAA Tournament three of the four years that he was the Bears’ head coach, including in 1993 when he was interim.

“It’s not just about this team,” explained Abdur-Rahim. “It’s all about a program with these guys more than anything. When it’s all said and done and they are playing professionally somewhere and sending me gear from wherever they are, they are still part of this program.”

The first-year Bulls head coach mentioned seeing former Bulls Charlie Bradley and Radenko Dobras at games, as well as former USF head coach Bobby Paschal.

“It is important because we need to go through games like that to build that grit, that inner toughness it takes to be a championship team,” said Abdur-Rahim.


Niner Nuggets: Charlotte started the game with a physical tenacity that allowed the 49ers to shoot 46 percent from the field and take a 47-37 lead to the locker room after the first 20 minutes.

Charlotte took an immediate 9-2 lead in the game’s first 2:33 on two three-pointers by Igor Milicic. Later, Lu’Cye Patterson stretched it to 40-23 with 4:43 remaining before halftime as the Niners looked to be in total command.

With the Bulls’ defense holding the 49ers to 31.6 percent in the second half, the scene changed and Charlotte was able to score only 22 points.

“We just didn’t score enough in the second half,” commented Charlotte head coach Aaron Fearne. “We just weren’t good enough offensively against a really good team and we have to be that on the road.”

Center Dishon Jackson led four 49ers in double figures with 16 points. Jackson scored the Niners’ first eight points of the second half as he helped them build a 59-44 lead with 13:49 to play.

South Florida shut down Jackson as the Bulls allowed for him to score only one more field goal after scoring those eight points.

“I thought it was just our kids competing,” Abdur-Rahim commented. “What we did do – we started doubling and showing the double just to get it out of his hands.”

The 6-11, 260-pound, Jackson came in averaging 11 points per game and shooting 53.6 percent from the floor with 5.3 rebounds per contest.

“That kid is a good player,” said Abdur-Rahim. “I always like to be able to guard the post, one-on-one. That way you are basically taking away their opportunity to get paint touch threes.”