Three weeks ago, after South Florida beat Virginia Tech in Tampa, Bulls coach Bobby Paschal grinned at Hokies coach Bill Foster and said: "We're not going to Blacksburg."
No doubt Paschal is pleased he broke his promise.
Saturday, South Florida clubbed the Hokies 75-62 and moved into a tie for fifth place in the Metro Conference with Southern Miss. It was the Bulls' fourth consecutive victory.
The Bulls (16-8, 4-5) led 49-47 with 10:09 left before outscoring Tech 17-6 over the next 8:37. Radenko Dobras had seven points and Gary Alexander six in the run.
Just as important, Paschal said, was what preceded that run. USF took a 49-45 lead with 12:37 left, then missed two field goals, two free throws and had a turnover in the next three minutes. But Tech scored just one basket.
"We had several times where we couldn't score that we played extremely good defense and rebounded well," Paschal said.
Tech stayed with USF in the first half mainly because of a 20-12 rebounding edge and an occasional triangle-and-two defense that chased Dobras and Derrick Sharp. Plus the Bulls couldn't consistently get the ball inside _ Alexander took just four shots in the first half.
"We have a thing we run against the triangle, but we weren't getting the ball to the right place," Paschal said. "In the second half, we changed and got more of a freedom-of-movement type thing and let the guys decide where to go."
Still, Tech had cut a 48-43 deficit to 49-47 with 10:09 left.
Alexander converted a three-point play to make it 52-47, and Tech's Erik Wilson missed an open jumper. USF's Fred Lewis pump-faked Wilson, stepped under him and scored in the lane. Each team missed once before Tech got a breakaway, but John Rivers' finger roll bounced out.
Then Dobras stepped in from the three-point line, made a leaning jumper and was fouled. The free throw made it 57-47 with 8:15 left. Rivers scored for Tech, but baskets by Dobras and Alexander increased the lead to 61-49.
"The defense was there," Tech's Jimmy Carruth said. "It's just that they hit a lot of tough shots."
Dobras and Lewis each had 21 points.
Tech (8-15, 2-8) clinched last place in the Metro.