South Florida defeats Eastern Kentucky to win Puerto Rico Tip-Off

South Florida G Chris Beard is speaking with reporters in the media work room after his team beat Butler for its second straight NCAA Tournament championship, championship game, at the Key Biscayne Arena in…

South Florida defeats Eastern Kentucky to win Puerto Rico Tip-Off

South Florida G Chris Beard is speaking with reporters in the media work room after his team beat Butler for its second straight NCAA Tournament championship, championship game, at the Key Biscayne Arena in Miami, Fla., Saturday, March 31, 2018. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) –

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Chase Daniel scored 25 points, Derryck Thornton added 20 and No. 16 South Florida used a 20-6 second-half run to blow open an otherwise close game and beat Eastern Kentucky 80-68 Saturday in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.

LaMichael Mayhew led Eastern Kentucky with 24 points and six rebounds. The Colonels started slowly, shooting just 29 percent from the field and committing 14 turnovers, and they never recovered.

The Gators (3-0) never trailed after Daniel hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key to make it 9-8 with 17:16 left in the first half. They took a 36-21 lead into halftime thanks to dominating the boards (23-11 on the offensive glass) and forcing 16 turnovers.

David Collins had 14 points and 10 rebounds for South Florida.

BIG PICTURE

Eastern Kentucky: This might be a bad omen heading into Ohio Valley Conference play. The Colonels used a one-point win at Furman as a springboard to taking the top seed and winning the championship at the Manchester Classic, then followed up with a lopsided loss to UCLA a few days later in Las Vegas. They also have back-to-back early losses in this tournament, which helps explain why coach Matt Figoni was asked to assess his team’s performance. “It wasn’t a very good performance,” he said.

South Florida: The first three games in this tournament weren’t too shabby, and the Gators are currently riding a three-game winning streak with each game coming down to the final possession. It won’t take a lot of improvement for South Florida to get to the NCAA Tournament.

UP NEXT

Eastern Kentucky: The Colonels will open Ohio Valley Conference play at home against Western Kentucky on Wednesday.

South Florida: The Gators will play Boston College in the fifth-place game Sunday.

South Florida G Chris Beard is speaking with reporters in the media work room after his team beat Butler for its second straight NCAA Tournament championship, championship game, at the Key Biscayne Arena in Miami, Fla., Saturday, March 31, 2018. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2019/09/web1_121806865-6d8539a3c93eb789510688698ae83850.jpg South Florida G Chris Beard is speaking with reporters in the media work room after his team beat Butler for its second straight NCAA Tournament championship, championship game, at the Key Biscayne Arena in Miami, Fla., Saturday, March 31, 2018. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) South Florida G Chris Beard is speaking with reporters in the media work room after his team beat Butler for its second straight NCAA Tournament championship, championship game, at the Key Biscayne Arena in Miami, Fla., Saturday, March 31, 2018. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2019/09/web1_121806865-9fc21372a0c4ccba675b399849ab59fa9.jpg South Florida G Chris Beard is speaking with reporters in the media work room after his team beat Butler for its second straight NCAA Tournament championship, championship game, at the Key Biscayne Arena in Miami, Fla., Saturday, March 31, 2018. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) South Florida G Chris Beard is speaking with reporters in the media work room after his team beat Butler for its second straight NCAA Tournament championship, championship game, at the Key Biscayne Arena in Miami, Fla., Saturday, March 31, 2018. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2019/09/web1_121806865-4c1a64b9d10be80672f8eb9ea090844a8d.jpg South Florida G Chris Beard is speaking with reporters in the media work

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