ROSEMONT, Ill. — The exclamation point came with about five minutes left, when Jawanza Poland missed a runner in the lane and USF teammate Ron Anderson attacked the rim for the rebound.
Anderson timed his leap perfectly, grabbing and dunking the ball in one motion to push the USF lead over DePaul to 13 points. The Bulls erupted with excitement as they loped back on defense, with Anderson flexing his right biceps and accepting a playful, celebratory shove from teammate Victor Rudd.
They've done their share of muscle-flexing this season, and the scene wasn't much different Sunday at Allstate Arena. A typically balanced effort fueled a 75-59 victory, the seventh in a row for USF against DePaul.
The formerly downtrodden Bulls (12-8, 5-2 Big East) have won five of six this month and joined a four-way tie for third in the conference, behind Syracuse (7-1) and Georgetown (6-2).
"We're excited," coach Stan Heath said. "We've never been here before."
Augustus Gilchrist led the way with 22 efficient points, his most since a career-high 32 at DePaul a year ago. Hitting 7 of 8 from the field and 8 of 10 free throws, the senior power forward was limited early by double teams but later took advantage of one-on-one matchups against center Krys Faber and others.
"We haven't done a great job with Gilchrist, really utilizing his talent, and I'll take the blame for that," Heath said. "At the same time, I talked to Gus about (not) just settling for jump shots. Today he was much more aggressive, attacking the basket, drawing fouls. …
"He was the guy that we need to have the rest of the year."
Poland was instant offense as usual, scoring 19 on 8-of-13 shooting. Hugh Robertson led a perimeter defensive effort that held Brandon Young and Moses Morgan, two of the top four scorers for DePaul (10-9, 1-6), to 1-of-23 shooting, 0-of-11 on 3-pointers.
"That's phenomenal, and I think Hugh sometimes doesn't get enough credit," Heath said.
Robertson, Rudd and former King High standout Toarlyn Fitzpatrick combined for 25 rebounds, leading USF to a 40-29 advantage on the boards against the worst rebounding team in the Big East.