Houston never stood a chance.
B.B. Waldon and Altron Jackson combined for 54 points on Senior Night as South Florida ran roughshod over a depleted Cougars squad, smothering Houston 88-57 before a crowd of 4,531 at the Sun Dome Tuesday.
“These people won’t be able to see us play on this court again or at this university again,” Waldon said. “People are going to be missing us, and I’m going to be missing them raising hell and stuff like that. It’s very emotional.”
Mike Bernard, Jackson and Waldon were honored before the game, and each was presented with a bouquet of flowers, a team-signed basketball and a framed picture of themselves.
“We just wanted to leave out on a high note,” Jackson said. “I think that’s what all three of us, including the team, did.”
Waldon saved one of the best performances of his decorated career for his final game on the Sun Dome floor, scoring 26 points and grabbing 18 boards on his way to passing Hakim Shahid as the career leader in rebounds (898) at USF.
“When they told me, I was kind of pushing myself to get that record,” Waldon said.
Jackson, who became the third player in Conference USA history to score 1,900 points, poured in 28, grabbed five boards and dished out five assists, helping the Bulls end a two-game skid. Bernard added four points, and all three received standing ovations and heard chants of their names from the crowd as they exited the game in the closing minutes.
“(There were) a lot of emotions flying around,” Bernard said. “I wish my parents were out here. That was the one thing I wanted. My father tried his best to get out here … but these guys support me (and) comfort me when I’m down. I love playing here, and I’ll miss it.”
Jackson and Waldon personally ensured Senior Night would be a memorable one, scoring the Bulls’ first 16 points. Will McDonald broke the stretch with a dunk (on an assist from Waldon), but Jackson and Waldon didn’t miss a beat, combining to score the Bulls’ next nine points. Halftime score: Houston 30, Waldon and Jackson 32.
“South Florida did what they had to do,” Houston coach Ray McCallum said. “They really came out of the locker room and locked us down and controlled it until the end.”
The Bulls led by as many as 17 in the first half and inflated the advantage to 30 at one point in the second. Reggie Kohn (nine assists) set the single-season USF assist record with 200, and Jimmy Baxter chipped in with 10 points, but all the stats and figures took a backseat to emotion of Waldon and Jackson’s final performance on the Sun Dome court.
“I put on the board (in the locker room) that you only get one Senior Night. Make it special,” coach Seth Greenberg said. “I couldn’t have envisioned it being more special. (Waldon and Jackson) had Senior Nights they’re going to remember. They sure had a Senior Night I’m going to remember.”
- Brandon Wright covers men’s basketball and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org