ORLANDO, FEB. 5, 2014 – Senior forward Victor Rudd scored eight of his season-high 25 points in overtime as USF won in thrilling fashion over UCF, 79-78 OT Wednesday in front of 6,108 at CFE Arena.
“I had to take the game over,” said Rudd, who moved into 16th on USF’s all-time scoring list. “I felt pretty good with my shot. I didn’t miss too many jumpers.”
Rudd was 11-of-19 from the field and added 10 rebounds for his fifth double-double of the season.
In a game that saw 13 dunks (nine by the Bulls), 13 ties and 11 lead changes, the most thrilling part of 28th meeting in the in-state rivalry, the first in conference play, came at end of overtime.
USF (12-11, 3-7 American) held a 78-72 lead with 1:49 to play before UCF (9-11, 1-8) scored the next six points in just 20 seconds capped by a three-pointer by Matt Williams. Rudd then missed a layup which allowed the Knights to possess the ball with 26 seconds remaining.
UCF gave the ball to its senior Isaiah Sykes whose 24 points and 12 rebounds helped the Knights climb back into the game after trailing the majority of the second half and by as many as seven with 11:44 to play. Sykes’ layup attempt with two seconds on the clock was blocked by USF freshman center John Egbunu and landed in the hands of junior guard Shemiye McLendon who was fouled by Kasey Wilson with 0.8 seconds remaining.
“That block was a huge play because Sykes was having his way in the paint against us,” head coach Stan Heath said. “We finally got the stop we needed which set up the free throw for Shemiye.”
With the Bulls in the double bonus, McLendon hit the first free throw. After being instructed by Heath to miss the second, McLendon did just that. UCF’s Calvin Newell grabbed the rebound and heaved the ball the length of the court which clanked off the back of the rim for the would-be game-winner.
“Both teams wanted to win,” said Rudd. “It’s a rivalry. We kept making baskets and it came down to a final shot.”
Both teams shot well as USF shot 50.7 percent from the field while UCF shot 51.7 percent. The Bulls dominated the paint, 54-42 and the rebounding, 41-32.
USF’s other senior had a solid game as Martino Brock tied a season-high with 17 points and added seven rebounds. Freshman forward Chris Perry had 10 points and six rebounds before fouling out towards the end of regulation.
“They’re tough,” Heath said of UCF which finished the game 7-of-20 from 3-point range. “They have some veteran guys out there. Sykes is one of the best players in our league. I feel very fortunate to get out of here with a win.”
The Bulls will be back in action on Saturday when they host Rutgers at 8 p.m. ET.