Extended game story: Bulls topple Tech
TAMPA -- On an opening night when a rookie appeared poised to steal the show with splash plays, the fifth-year veteran trumped him with clutch ones.
Besieged by foul problems much of the evening, USF senior Victor Rudd scored 15 of his team-high 23 points in the last 5:07 to help the Bulls (1-0) hold off Tennessee Tech,
72-62, at the Sun Dome.
With the Golden Eagles chipping away at what had been a 14-point Bulls lead, Rudd helped his team re-seize the momentum in a 65-second sequence. His one-handed transition dunk off
a Musa Abdul-Aleem steal elicited the night's heartiest roar from the Sun Dome audience of
After an Eagles miss at the other end, Rudd followed with a 3-pointer, giving the hosts a 61-50 lead with 2:40 to play. He then sank his final eight free throws down the stretch, finishing 11-for-12 on an otherwise abysmal night for USF (25-for-40) from the stripe.
"Sometimes you're maybe not quite in rhythm, you're not having a great game, but you find
ways to get things done, and he found ways to get things done tonight," said Coach Stan Heath, again missing junior point guard Anthony Collins (knee).
"You want your senior to be able to do that."
While Rudd delivered in the clutch, 6-foot-8, 260-pound rookie Chris Perry sparkled in the paint.
A former Bartow High behemoth, Perry (14 points, seven rebounds, two blocks) had a mesmerizing six-point spurt early in the second half that gave the Bulls their first 10-point lead.
"I had fun watching him when I was out," Rudd said.
Perry followed a tip-in with an alley-oop dunk off a Corey Allen Jr. feed, and added another dunk off a Bulls inbounds play to give USF a 36-25 advantage. For the night, he and 6-10 classmate John Egbunu finished with 21 total points, 14 rebounds and four blocks.
"(Perry) doesn't know how good he can be," Heath said. "And when he figures that out, when
that light bulb really clicks on, he's an all-conference-type player."
Junior guard Ty Allen led Tennessee Tech with 25, including a second-chance layup with 5:28
to go that cut his team's deficit to 52-49. The Eagles would get no closer as Rudd, who had
picked up his fourth foul with 12:42 to go, resurfaced in the waning minutes.
"Hey, it got a little hairy," Heath said. "We bent a little bit, but I was pleased we didn't break."
They might -- just might -- be less breakable for Tuesday's home contest against Bethune-Cookman. Collins, still recovering from offseason knee surgery, has practiced "full-go" the last two days and could be available, Heath indicated.
"He doesn't have his legs underneath him yet," Heath said. "He isn't 100 percent, he's probably like, 75-80. He's played injured before...but I don't want to put him in a situation where he could get worse and it could affect his long-term."