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December 8, 2013

USF holds off Alabama 66-64

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Senior forward Victor Rudd and freshman Chris Perry had solid performances as the Bulls were able to hold off a gritty Alabama team 66-64 on Saturday Night.

The student section at the Sun Dome was as packed and as loud as it has been all year, and a motivated and fired up USF team was clearly able to feed off of that energy.

The game remained close throughout the second half. USF jumped out to an eight point lead with 2:31 remaining, but Alabama, led by guards Retin Obasohan and Trevor Releford, were able to battle back to make things interesting.

Anthony Collins was founded three times in the last minute after the Bulls entered the double bonus. Collins converted on five in a row but missed what would have been the sixth consecutive free throw with 17 seconds remaining.

After calling timeout with 15 seconds left, Alabama got a wide open look from three point range that would have given them the one point lead and likely would have sealed a victory.

However, the shot by guard Levi Randolph rimmed out and bounced Alabama's way. A second shot went up as Bulls fans held their breath, but freshman center John Egbunu came to the rescue with a mammoth block to save he game for USF.

Rudd and Perry led the Bulls' balanced scoring attack by contributing 15 and 14 points, respectively. Perry posted his second consecutive double by adding 14 rebounds to his efficient 6-10 shooting performance. Rudd added seven rebounds.

Perry has made huge strides since arriving on campus and Bulls fans have taken notice. Head coach Stan Heath has as well.

"Chris Perry was terrific tonight," said Heath. "His rebounding and inside play provided something we really needed."

Not only has Heath seen improvement from his six-foot-eight big man out of Bartow, but he's also seen his team take big steps as a unit.

"I think we've grown up quite a bit, I'm seeing our team really coming together," said Heath.

"We're gelling, we're understanding our roles better, and we're playing unselfish. It's a different team from the last time we played here."

Junior point guard Anthony Collins had a solid outing with seven points and nine assists in 32 minutes of action. Although he is clearly not one hundred percent, Heath continues to emphasize that his court presence and leadership add un-matchable value to this Bulls team.

"Even though Collins isn't all the way healthy, he's gutting it out right now," said Heath.

"He has a huge impact for our team."

Collins was pleased with USF's effort tonight, especially since USF was on a two-game home skid.

"This win feels good. We lost our last two home games and we wanted this win," said Collins.

"We got it tonight against a tough Alabama team. This is a quality win."

USF has the next 10 days off before hosting FGCU on December 17th at 7 pm.

Nico's Notes:

- Although the USF student section was something of a capacity crowd tonight, there are always some obnoxious ones. Many of the students were chanting an obscene and classless phrase that clearly expressed their passionate dislike of Alabama's athletic institution. Alas.

- On a more positive note, USF out-rebounded 'Bama 39-31. A solid night of crashing the boards courtesy of John Egbunu, Perry, and Rudd.

- Man, Corey Allen Jr. is a heckuva lot of fun to watch. He has next-level end-to-end speed and his court vision and ball handling seem to improve more every game he plays. Big time player. He added nine points.

- The Bulls shot only 3-13 from beyond the arc. This team is not a three point shooting squad and shooting more than 10 per game is probably not the answer. Tough defense and transition layups is the identity of his team.

- Alabama is a gritty basketball team. The have had three 20-win seasons in a row coming into their 2013-14 campaign, and it shows. They kept coming back when USF would open up their leads. The Crimson Tide had four players in double digits, scoring 20, 17, 12, and 10 points, respectively.



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