TAMPA — Years from now not many people will be able to say they were there for it, but USF got a breakout game Monday from sophomore transfer Victor Rudd, who scored 30 to help the Bulls pull away from Marist for an 81-67 win at the St. Pete Times Forum.
"I've been bragging on him for a while, and I didn't want to eat crow, but I think you saw a glimpse of how talented this young man is," Bulls coach Stan Heath said of Rudd, who had nine points in a 15-0 run that turned a 46-42 deficit with 14 minutes remaining into a 67-56 lead.
Rudd scored on high-flying dunks and open 3-pointers, shooting 11-for-21. USF (2-0) had one 30-point game all of last season, when Augustus Gilchrist had 32 against DePaul.
"I'm trying to win," said Rudd, a 6-foot-8 forward who sat out last season after arriving from Arizona State. "I had an opportunity to score a lot of points, but that would be the same for anybody. If they were scoring, they would get the ball just like I was."
Marist (0-2) hung around longer than expected considering it lost by 50 Friday at Kentucky. But USF pulled away, getting 11 points and 12 rebounds from Gilchrist. "Gilchrist, for about 23 minutes, was nonexistent," Heath said. "In the last 17 minutes, he was a totally different guy with a double double."
Tampa Prep's Jay Bowie had 11 points as one of five players scoring in double figures for Marist. USF got five assists and only one turnover from point guard Lavonte Dority. After shooting 54 percent on free throws in the opener, USF went 15-for-18 from the line.
With the Sun Dome under renovation all season, USF (2-0) played at its second venue in three days, and a third home, the Lakeland Center, comes Wednesday. The actual crowd was roughly 500, though the announced attendance was 2,465.
"Our goal is to build up some excitement for our fans to come down and see us, get the folks from the downtown area, from the businesses, from south Tampa, from St. Pete and Clearwater, as well as our USF people, to come down and see some fun, exciting basketball," Heath said. "Tonight was just the start, and we're hoping to build bigger crowds."