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Courtesy: J. Meric
Bulls Get Even With Knights With 65-56 Win
Team 1st 2nd OT Final
USF
28 37 -- 65
UCF
27 29 -- 56

 

By TOM ZEBOLD

USF Senior Writer

TAMPA – Head coach Stan Heath said USF is a much better team than the version that lost to UCF in the season opener and the Bulls backed him up Wednesday night in Orlando.

Anthony Collins and Victor Rudd each posted double-doubles to help the Bulls beat the Knights, 65-56, to finish non-conference play with a 9-3 record. USF's rebound comes almost two months after UCF handed the Bulls a 74-56 loss in Tampa.

"We let our fans down on opening night, so the guys were really focused," Heath said. "On the trip here, we threw the tape in of that first game and I thought they saw how we just didn't play with the intensity and teamwork that you needed to play with. I'm really proud of the guys."

Heath didn't know if Collins and Rudd would be able to play in USF's rematch with UCF after both left Saturday's win over George Mason early with scary injuries. Heath was pleasantly surprised with the outcome as Collins posted 16 points and 10 assists, while Rudd added 13 points and 11 rebounds in the Bulls' fourth consecutive win.

"Without those two guys I don't know what would have happened," Heath said. "For me, it was a little unsettling not knowing who was going to be in that lineup, especially if that little guy (Collins) is not in there."

Jawanza Poland continued his hot streak with a team-high 18 points and Toaryln Fitzpatrick added 10 points in a game that saw the Bulls commit only six turnovers. USF also wound up breaking even with UCF in rebounds (35) after the Knights outboarded the Bulls, 45-26, in the season opener.

"It was good for us to battle even with that because it allowed us to stay in the game," Heath said.

USF had the lead for the first 14 minutes of the series' latest installment until UCF seized the advantage during a 15-0 run. The Knights led, 27-19, until Musa Abdul-Aleem broke USF out of its offensive slumber with a 3-pointer with 2:25 to go before the break. Abdul-Aleem hit another 3-pointer about a minute later and Fitzpatrick connected from long range with four seconds remaining to send the Bulls into the half with a 28-27 advantage.

"That was a huge lift," Heath said.

Collins led USF with seven points and seven assists at the break after a neck sprain kept him out of practice this week. The sophomore was taken off the floor on a stretcher as a precaution during the second half of the Bulls' 61-57 win over George Mason.

Rudd, who suffered a concussion on Saturday, kept USF's groove going from beyond the arc by opening the second half with a 3-pointer and Poland added another to give the Bulls a 38-31 lead with 16:25 to play. Another 3-pointer and a fast-break dunk by Poland gave USF a 43-34 lead with 14 minutes to go, and a highlight reel reverse alley-oop dunk by Rudd later made it 47-34 with a minute later.

The Bulls had an 11-point lead with a little more than 10 minutes remaining but couldn't stop UCF from getting close down the stretch. A free throw by Keith Clanton cut UCF's deficit to 53-52 with 3:19 to go and another by Sykes tied up with 2:29 left. Sykes missed his second attempt, Collins was fouled 22 seconds later put USF back ahead by making a free throw.

A 3-pointer with 1:09 to play by Fitzpatrick put USF ahead, 57-53, and Collins went 6-for-6 from the free throw line in the last minute to help snap UCF's three-game winning streak.

Big East play for USF begins Sunday at noon when the Bulls face Syracuse at the Sun Dome. USF set a program record with 12 wins in Big East play last season before coming within one victory of the Sweet 16. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

USF FG-A 3FG-A FT-A  Pts. 
Jawanza Poland
8-14 2-3 0-0 18
UCF
FG-A  3FG-A  FT-A Pts. 
Keith Clanton 7-10 1-2 3-7 18
USF Off. Def. Total
Victor Rudd 1 10 11
UCF Off. Def. Tota

Keith Clanton

2 12 14
USF Asst. Stl.  Blk. 
Anthony Collins 10 1 0
UCF Asst. Stl. Blk.
Isaiah Sykes 5 1 0



USF Men's Basketball




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