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More USF notes on road to Nashville ...



DAYTON, Ohio -- Technically, we're on the road to Nashville, driving down I-75 and I-71 through Kentucky, having enjoyed a random hailstorm just north of Cincinnati on the way to USF's next NCAA destination, Nashville.

Times columnist Gary Shelton is driving, which allows me to address a few leftover notes from Wednesday's huge 65-54 win against California ...

SCORING IN DROVES: For a team that has no player averaging so much as 10 points per game, the Bulls put four players in double digits last night, led by Victor Rudd's 15 points, his third game in a row in double figures. Those four -- Rudd, Augustus Gilchrist, Anthony Collins and Jawanza Poland -- shot a combined 21-for-30 from the field, a ridiculous 70 percent clip.

TAKING IT EASY: With a 32-point lead with 8:51 to play, Stan Heath was able to give his key players more of a rest than usual, knowing they had Temple in 48 hours -- basically everybody played half of the final eight minutes, with even walk-on Alberto Damour getting just his third cameo since the start of conference play.

"It's good so everybody can get in, get their feet wet," said Collins, who played only 30 minutes, his lowest total since Feb. 8 against Pittsburgh. "So when it comes time, just in case something happens, then everybody has the experience to get in and play."

PRESSURE OFF: Heath said one factor in USF's improved shooting Wednesday was having shed the relentless pressure of the NCAA bubble, something that's been with the Bulls for much of the Big East season.

"I told this to my team. I thought since maybe somewhere around mid-January, we were playing for our lives," Heath said. "We felt like any game we lost was an elimination game. And I think in some ways it might have been my fault that we put a lot of pressure on ourselves, and maybe I coached that way, where just every possession was just so important. I felt like once we got in the tournament and we talked about this, like 'Hey, we're in a new season. Let's relax and play.'"

SMALL WORLD: The drive from Dayton to Nashville happens to take you directly past the campus of Georgetown College in Kentucky, which is where former Bulls point guard Anthony Crater landed after being dismissed from the Bulls in May.

[Last modified: Thursday, March 15, 2012 11:00am]


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