Centers held scoreless as USF loses 61-49
Jurick, who has lost 25 pounds, said he's been driven by his injury rehab and by the Cowboys' chances to be a special team this season. They're ranked for the first time since 2007.
"I felt pretty good," he said. "Coach told me before the game, 'Just be more confident on the offensive end.' I think that goes a long ways."
Coach Travis Ford said that encouragement has been a point of emphasis with the 6-foot-11 senior.
"He does lack in confidence. We believe in him more than he believes in himself," Ford said. "We challenged him as far as rebounding, how to rebound and what type of rebounds we need from him, and he responded.
"When we can get a performance from a big man like that, because we've got some of the best guards in the country, I believe, then that just helps our team be that much better."
Le'Bryan Nash, the Cowboys' leading scorer with a 19-point average, ran into some minor foul trouble and had only six points — four coming on free throws in the final 2 minutes.
Nash, who had scored in double digits in 15 consecutive games dating to last season, attempted just four shots.
The missing offense didn't matter nearly as much with Oklahoma State's defense returning to form after Virginia Tech shot 50 percent in the second half while beating the Cowboys 81-71 on Saturday. That amounted to 16 more points than any other opponent had scored against OSU this season.
The Cowboys clamped down, limiting South Florida to two baskets over the final 12 minutes of the first half but still led only 24-22 when Shaun Noriega made a 3-pointer to start the second half for the Bulls.
Oklahoma State had an answer every time the Bulls pulled within a basket, and Smart finally sparked the run that put it away.
Jurick's slam, off Smart's missed 3-pointer, made it 50-35.
USF has scored less than 60 points in all three of its losses this season, and won each time it surpassed that mark.
"If you go in somebody's backyard and you hold them to 40 percent shooting, 31 from 3, you have a legitimate chance to win," Heath said. "You've just got to score the ball a lot better. Your offense has got to come to the table too.
"A lot of times teams go on the road and they don't bring their defense. We brought our defense, so I was pleased with that."
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