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Victor Rudd and Martino Brock scored 15 points each and Chris Perry added 10 points and 8 rebounds as the revamped South Florida Bulls Men's Basketball team defeated the Barry University Buccaneers 88-53 on Monday Night at the Sun Dome.
However, the headlined story of the night wasn't about one specific player. It was about the amount of fouls that were called.
At the end of the game, there were 59 total fouls between both teams. USF Head Coach Stan Heath expected a certain level of sloppiness in the Bulls' first game in the Sun Dome this year, but not to this degree.
"59 fouls. That's a lot," said Heath."But players will adjust. If the games are going to be called that way this year, I think it's actually to our advantage."
Senior forward Victor Rudd agrees.
"I'm going to be hearing that whistle in my sleep tonight. I love it," said Rudd. "My goal this year is to get to the free throw line more, get easy points."
Rudd played 26 minutes Monday night, more than any other Bulls player. He scored 15 points (nearly half of them from free throws) and added 8 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 2 steals. Rudd feels that there were definitely positives to take away from the game.
"Our goal is to push the ball more," said Rudd. "We want to play like that more this year, we just have to do it consistently."
Coach Heath suggested something that will help with that consistency is getting junior point guard Anthony Collins (knee) back on the court as soon as possible.
"We've got a ways to go," said Heath. "We need to shoot the ball better. Getting Collins back will give us a huge boost."
Heath didn't specify to when exactly Collins will make his return, but it could be as early as Saturday when the Bulls host Tennessee Tech at 7 p.m. for the season opener.
Although Heath didn't offer an exact timetable, he did give an update on his medical progress.
"Collins can do half-court. He has swelling in his knee, but no structural damage," said Heath. "He's okay moving side to side but when playing up and down, he's playing at about 60% of his normal speed."
Heath mentioned that Corey Allen Jr. did a solid job taking the reins at point guard while Collins rested his knee. Allen Jr. scored 6 points and added 3 assists and 2 steals in just 16 minutes of action.
Heath began the postgame press conference talking about how it was good to finally get everyone on the court to see how all the hard work in practice will translate to games.
"We showed a little rust, but it was good to get out there," Heath said. "We played hard and got some nice hustle points. It was a good opportunity for some of the new guys to get a feel."
Two of those new guys, freshmen Chris Perry and John Egbunu, are beginning the season with big expectations to be the premier paint defenders and rebounders on the team. Both players had solid debuts. Perry scored 10 points and added 8 rebounds while Egbunu contributed 10 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 blocks, respectively.
Egbunu showed flashes of his raw talent and athleticism, through multiple dunks in the paint and ferocious blocks on defense. Team leader Victor Rudd likes what he sees from the big guys, but he knows that getting the floor general back is imperative for the Bulls to make a run at the NCAA tournament this year.
"John (Egbunu) is going to be a consistent shot blocker this year. He and Chris (Perry) add a different dimension. But once we get Collins back, we're a better team. It's a good sign that we played well tonight even without him."
The Bulls showed promise in their only exhibition game of the year. Being consistent will be the key as the Bulls try to make a run at the Big Dance for the second time in three years under Heath.
-- Rudd appeared to injure his left ankle midway through the second half, and even went to the locker room after limping around the court. He returned shortly after. It appears to be a mild tweak, but he should be good to go for Saturday's opener.
-- Fan favorite Jordan Omogbehin entered the game to loud cheers from the crowd in the final minutes of the second half. He contributed a blocked shot.
-- Musa Abdul-Aleem, known around the team as the premier shooter, started the game 0-4 behind the arc but hit two 3's late which was a huge confidence boost.
-- USF outscored Barry 53-26 in the second half and scored 22 points off turnovers. USF also outrebounded Barry 50-39 and the Bulls bench outscored Barry's 40-17.