TAMPA – Behind a double-double by freshman forward Chris Perry, the University of South Florida men’s basketball team took control late and held on for a 66-64 win over Alabama Saturday night at the Sun Dome.
“I’m really proud of the guys,” said USF coach Stan Heath. “We battled, we fought. We were able to withstand some of their runs. We got some outstanding production from a number of guys.”
Trailing by four points with 10:34 remaining, the Bulls (6-2) went on a 13-2 run over the next 5:15 to take a 55-48 lead. The Crimson Tide (4-4) scored the next four points to cut the lead to 55-52 with 3:56 to play before a three-pointer by senior forward Victor Rudd and a layup by Chris Perry pushed the Bulls to their largest lead of the game, 60-52 with 2:31 remaining.
Perry finished with 14 points, on 6-of-10 shooting, and 14 rebounds, his second consecutive double-double. It was the first time a Bulls player had back-to-back double-doubles since Rudd accomplished the feat last January at UCF (1/2) and against Syracuse (1/6).
“Chris Perry was terrific tonight,” Heath said. “Just his inside play and rebounding and his inside presence was something that we needed. In the last two games, our rebounding has been a key stat.”
The game was close down the stretch with the USF lead never more than four points in the final 1:19. The Bulls went 6-of-8 from the free throw line over that time including a 5-of-6 effort from junior guard Anthony Collins who finished with seven points and nine assists.
With the Bulls leading by two points and 10 seconds to play, Alabama attempted three shots in its final possession. First, a layup by Levi Randolph was swatted away by USF’s John Egbunu. The rebound then went to an open Shannon Hale who missed a three-pointer. The rebound went back to Randolph whose jumper along the baseline was off target.
USF won the rebounding battle 39-31 and outshot Alabama 43.4 percent to 39.0 percent.
Egbunu finished the game with seven points, six rebounds and three blocks. He has blocked at least one shot in every game of his young career. Rudd recorded a team-high 15 points and seven rebounds.
The Bulls will have nine days without a game before hosting Florida Gulf Coast on December 17 at 7 p.m. as part of the Las Vegas Classic.