LAS VEGAS — Normally a double double of 17 points and 11 rebounds would be invaluable.
On Sunday, Victor Rudd's numbers weren't enough for USF as the Bulls lost to Mississippi State 71-66 in the Las Vegas Classic.
With junior guard Anthony Collins nursing a knee injury that is lingering from offseason surgery, USF's offense was stagnant and sloppy at times, flailing in the midst of Mississippi State's stringent 1-3-1 zone defense.
"We were prepared for their zone … (but) I thought we were just a little bit sloppy with it," coach Stan Heath said. "After a while we settled down and we got good shots. It was just two-minute periods where they would switch their defense and we took a while to get adjusted instead of just being aggressive and making the right plays right away."
The Bulldogs (9-2), who went into the game first in the SEC and eighth nationally with 9.9 steals per game, had 10 against the Bulls.
"They have good ball pressure with their 1-3-1 zone, and they move around," Rudd said. "All their perimeter players anticipate steals and getting in the passing lanes, so it was kind of tough."
Rudd dislocated his left ring finger during practice Saturday and said he "felt it pop in and out" twice during the game.
"It affected me a lot," he said. "Every time I touched the ball it just hurt."
USF (8-4), which had won four straight, used a 6-0 run to take a 45-44 lead with 15:36 left, but the Bulldogs used a 14-7 run to open a 58-52 lead with 9:24 left. The Bulls tied it at 58 when Rudd drove hard to the hole with 5:59 left, but the Bulldogs closed the game on a 13-8 run.
Playing frenetically at times, USF committed 18 turnovers.
"I really thought we could have won this game and should have won this game," Heath said. "We had a lot of opportunities, and it seemed like when a big play was right there — either a loose ball or a steal — we just didn't convert when it was really important."