TAMPA (Dec. 19, 2003) – The Bulls keep finding ways to conquer high-pressure situations this non-conference season.
Corey Allen Jr. hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 37 seconds remaining in USF’s 73-70 Las Vegas Classic win over Florida A&M on Wednesday night before a crowd of 3,433 at the Sun Dome. USF (8-2) has won four straight by a combined nine points and is off to its best start since the 2009-10 season.
“At the end of the day it’s not going to say we won by one, two, 25 or 30. It’s going to say ‘W,’” head coach Stan Heath said. “The guys are finding a way to get it done.”
Wednesday’s game featured a ton of twists and turns with six ties and nine lead changes before the Bulls produced in crunch time. Down 70-69 with less than a minute to go, Victor Rudd looked for the go-ahead jumper before wisely kicking the ball out to Allen, who was wide open for the game-winning shot.
“(Allen’s) man came to me and I just saw him in the corner with his hands way up in the air,” said Rudd, who posted his second straight double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds.
Allen finished with a career-high 22 points and said he was more than ready to make his second 3-pointer of the game.
“I wasn’t nervous because we’ve been through this situation before. I knew we would find a way to pull it out,” Allen said. “My player went to (Rudd), so I knew he would kick it out and make the right decision.”
USF’s winning streak was kept intact thanks to a heads-up defensive play by Martino Brock as well. FAMU (2-9) had one last shot at a tie when Brock stood his ground in the paint and drew a charge from driving Reggie Lewis with 4 seconds remaining. Anthony Collins capped off the scoring with a free throw.
“It was a great defensive play. He’s taken two charges in his career and they’ve all come down the stretch,” said Rudd of Brock, who finished with six points and two steals.
USF and FAMU headed into halftime tied at 37 after the Rattlers made an early impact from long range. FAMU averaged six 3-pointers per game heading into the contest and had seven by the break with three coming from Richie Spiller. The Rattlers finished with 10 3-pointers.
“We haven’t shot this well in the three years since I’ve been at FAMU,” head coach Clemon Johnson said.
The Bulls got a huge first-half boost on the offensive end from Allen, who had 13 points and five rebounds in 19 minutes. Allen has been in double figures five times in his debut season with the Bulls and ranked second on the team with an average of 12.4 points heading into USF’s 11th meeting with the Rattlers.
“Corey carried us in a big way I thought offensively,” Heath said.
The Bulls continue their Las Vegas Classic run on the road 8 p.m. ET Sunday against Mississippi State. USF will face UNLV or Santa Clara on Monday at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.