Victor Rudd Jr. had St. John’s seeing red for the entire second half on Wednesday night, carrying the Bulls toarguably their most impressive victory of the Big East season.
South Florida took down the Red Storm 64-49 at the TampaBay Times Forum, thanks in large part to the second-halfheroics of Rudd. He scored 24 points, all of which came in the second half,aiding the Bulls in running away with the score.
“I liked the one-two punch from (Jawanza) Poland in the first half, and then, in the second half, I think Victor
Rudd going from a goose egg in the first half to 24 points is pretty impressive.” coach Stan Heath said. “I’ve seen him working since the new year on being a more complete player, and you see that in practice. And you think, ‘Man, I want to see that in the game,’ and he did that tonight.”
Three-point shooting andrebounding was the story of the night for USF. The team shot 50 percent from behind the arc with Rudd being their top contributor, as he made five of his seven attempts.
“I don’t really know,” Rudd said. “I didn’t think the shots would ever go in, but myteammates kept telling me to keep shooting, and I made all of my shots in the halftime warm-ups, so I was confident. Then I got going a little, and if I keep getting the ball, I’llkeep shooting.”
Rebounds were also key for the Bulls. They were able to extend several possessionsoff the strength of their12 offensive rebounds. USF controlled the overallrebounding stat as well, witha 32-to-23 edge.
“It was frustrating for usto go into halftime, and USF had the rebounding edge by seven, and then for the rest of the game it kind ofhovered between a sevenand nine rebound average,”St. John’s interim coach Mike Dunlap said.
After a first half in which the Bulls’ Big East-leadingdefense was key, giving up only 22 points, Rudd exploded in the second half and endedwith a game-leading 24 points.
The Bulls offense as a whole was fueled by unselfishness, with 18 assists on 22 totalfield goals.
“It all starts with Anthony Collins,” Heath said. “You know, not too many guyscan have zero points, and
you look at the stat sheet and say, he had a good game. He didn’t score, but he had eight assists, controlled the game, and that’s contagious tothe team.”
Rudd’s performance was punctuated by a posterizing dunk on St. John’s God’sgift Achiuwa, setting up a
potential second consecutiveappearance on “SportsCenter”‘Top 10 Plays.
“I want the No. 1 playthis time,” Rudd said afterthe game.
The victory gave the Bulls an 11-8 record on the season, with an impressive 4-2 start in the Big East, along with an equally impressive 10-1 record at home.
“We did a pretty good jobtoday, and now it’s time to go on the road and try tocontinue this kind of play on the road.” Heath said.
USF will be on the road for two consecutive gamesagainst DePaul and Marquette,before returning to the
Tampa Bay Times Forum to take on Providence onJan. 29 at 2 p.m.