TAMPA — Just when it appeared USF would be ensnared beyond rescue in the classic trap game, Corey Allen disentangled the Bulls down the stretch.
The 6-foot-1 junior college transfer scored eight of his team-high 19 points in the last four minutes Friday — including consecutive two-handed dunks — to help USF pull away late for a 72-63 victory over Stetson.
The Bulls, 4-0 for the first time since 2006, now can focus on Monday night's home showdown against seventh-ranked Oklahoma State. The Bulls acknowledged they already had an eye on the Cowboys before Friday's game.
When asked how guilty his players were of looking ahead, USF coach Stan Heath said, "We should be in jail. Lock us up and throw away the key."
"When (OSU) played Memphis on TV (Tuesday), we came back to practice and that's all they were talking about," Heath said. "That was the whole discussion. I was like, "Wait, wait, wait, time-out. We play Stetson.' "
What Heath tried futilely to convey was Stetson — coached by OSU alumnus Corey Williams — would create matchup problems. USF had few answers for 6-foot-6 senior Willie Green (20 points) and struggled to rotate defensively, especially in the first half.
Green's layup with 4:30 to play gave Stetson (0-5) a 61-60 lead, but as a stunned Sun Dome crowd of 3,782 looked on, Allen saw to it the Hatters led no more.
"During the (last) stretch of the game, Coach Heath pulled me to the side and he just told me to step up, point blank," Allen said. "That's what I did."
Allen's two free throws with 4:01 to play gave USF a 64-61 lead. Ten seconds later, after picking freshman Raekwon Harney's pocket on the opposite end, he finished with a two-handed dunk.
Then with 1:45 to go, he intercepted Kentwan Smith's pass in the backcourt and went for another dunk and a 68-63 lead. His one-handed running bank shot with 56 seconds to go made it a seven-point game.
"We were very fortunate to win the game," Heath said. "Stetson really played well; I thought they outplayed us in a lot of areas. … Our mind has got to get back to our defense."