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Sunday, Jun 24, 2018
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Rudd leads Bulls to opening win

TAMPA — The University of South Florida’s freshmen big men — Chris Perry and John Egbunu — formally introduced themselves to college basketball Saturday night while providing a tantalizing glimpse of what they might become for the Bulls.

But when it mattered most, when USF’s comfortable advantage began slipping away, the Bulls relied on their senior leader to secure a season-opening victory.

Victor Rudd had a team-high 23 points — including 11-for-12 from the free-throw line — as the Bulls subdued the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles 72-62 before an announced crowd of 4,103 at the Sun Dome.

USF’s 14-point lead was cut to four, 54-50, on a free throw by Ty Allen with 4:31 remaining. “It started getting a little hairy,’’ Bulls coach Stan Heath said.

After Musa Abdul-Aleem muscled in a layup, Rudd took over.

Abdul-Aleem recovered a loose ball, then passed ahead to Corey Allen Jr., who shoveled a cross-court bullet to Rudd. He flew through the air, veering sideways, throwing down a tomahawk dunk.

On USF’s next possession, Rudd buried a 3-pointer.

And then he made two free throws, putting USF up by 10.

“You want your senior to be able to do that,’’ said Heath, who was pleased with the free-throw shooting of Rudd and Egbunu, but not pleased with the remainder of the team (7-for-16).

Meanwhile, the freshmen also were impressive. Perry, a 6-foot-8, 260-pounder from Bartow, had 14 points, seven rebounds, two blocked shots, two steals and three dunks in 27 minutes. Egbunu, 6-10, 245 pounds, contributed seven points (7-for-12 from the free-throw line), seven rebounds and two blocks.

“Combined 21 points and 14 rebounds from that position, I like that,’’ Heath said. “For a period of time, we played them both together and I can definitely see that as a future combination.

“Chris (Perry) doesn’t know how good he can be. When he figures that out, when that light bulb really clicks on, he’s an all-conference type player. He’s got all the tools, good hands, a decent feel, a big body. Once that motor gets going … I’m hoping it happens more sooner than later.”

USF played without junior point guard Anthony Collins, a second-team preseason All-American Athletic Conference pick along with Rudd. Collins still has swelling in his left knee, following surgery to remove an inflamed bursa sac. Heath said Collins could potentially play in Tuesday night’s home game against Bethune-Cookman.

In Collins’ absence, Allen (seven assists) and Shemiye McLendon worked at the point. Heath did not play his son, freshman Josh Heath of Tampa Prep, and is toying with a redshirt season if that luxury presents itself.

“AC practiced full-go the last two days, but he doesn’t have his legs under him yet,’’ Heath said. “We don’t want to put him in a situation where he hurts it worse and it affects him long term. … I don’t think he’ll be 100 percent if he does play (Tuesday), but just having him on the floor will help.’’

“I think we can win games without AC,’’ Rudd said. “Things would be a lot smoother and easier with him. But we want him to get healthy. We’re not really worried about it right now. We’ll just act like he’s not on the team until he gets back. When he does, it’s going to make things seem that much better.’’

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TENNESSEE TECH (0-1) — Carter 2-4 0-4 4, Morse 1-1 0-0 2, Samarrippas 1-10 0-0 3, McKay 0-1 0-0 0, Allen 9-17 4-5 25, Moore 4-9 6-9 15, Johnson 1-5 0-0 2, Marseille 2-7 0-1 4, Thomas 0-0 0-0 0, Ogbe 2-4 0-1 5, Caldwell 0-2 2-2 2. Totals 22-60 12-22 62.

SOUTH FLORIDA (1-0) — Rudd 5-11 11-12 23, LeDay 0-3 0-0 0, Egbunu 0-0 7-12 7, Brock 3-6 2-7 8, Allen Jr. 2-8 3-6 7, Abdul-Aleem 2-3 0-0 5, McLendon 1-2 2-2 4, Hawkins 2-7 0-0 4, Perry 7-10 0-1 14. Totals 22-50 25-40 72.

Halftime—South Florida 28-19. 3-Point Goals—Tennessee Tech 6-22 (Allen 3-8, Moore 1-2, Ogbe 1-3, Samarrippas 1-6, Johnson 0-3), South Florida 3-8 (Rudd 2-3, Abdul-Aleem 1-2, Allen Jr. 0-1, Hawkins 0-2). Fouled Out—Moore. Rebounds—Tennessee Tech 38 (Ogbe 11), South Florida 41 (Brock 8). Assists—Tennessee Tech 12 (Samarrippas 6), South Florida 13 (Allen Jr. 7). Total Fouls—Tennessee Tech 27, South Florida 21. A—4,103.

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