PHILADELPHIA — USF won a battle of attrition to defeat Temple 82-75 Thursday night and might have discovered how to make the most of a nine-player rotation in a game in which healthy bodies proved to be the difference.
USF (10-6, 1-2 American Athletic Conference) ended a two-game losing streak and pulled out of the conference basement. Temple (5-8, 0-3), struggling with a rash of injuries, had eight players to start the game, but point guard Will Cummings left in the first half with a concussion.
It's the first time USF has been 4-0 on the road.
The Bulls, who looked to find their rhythm throughout a first half that ended tied at 34, wore down Temple in the second half with a late run that gave them the lead for the rest of the game with just under six minutes left.
Musa Abdul-Aleem's 3-pointer gave the Bulls the lead for good at 70-69, capping a run after Temple seemingly took a commanding 66-56 advantage.
Temple closed to 77-74 in the final minute, but the Bulls effective worked the ball around the perimeter and sealed the win when Victor Rudd calmly sank a foul-line jumper with two seconds left on the shot clock and 29 in the game.
Five Bulls scored in double figures. Rudd had a game-high 23 points and 10 rebounds.
"I know I had to make that shot,'' Rudd said. "If I didn't, it could have been trouble. We knew at halftime (Temple) didn't have many guys dressed, but we also knew we had to keep plugging away.
"We got down at times, but we just kept working the ball and believed in each other."
Coach Stan Heath was impressed with the effort up front. The Bulls scored 50 in the paint and outrebounded Temple 40-30. John Egbunu had nine points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Freshman guard Josh Heath, the coach's son from Tampa Prep, debuted with five assists and no turnovers in 19 minutes.
"This was a huge win for us," Stan Heath said. "We started slow, but we knew we had to keep working. We had some nice play from our guards, and our big men crashed the boards all night.''