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Jones leads offense into final stretch of season

It was fitting that Dominique Jones finished his last home game of the season with a 30-point performance Tuesday night.

The sophomore guard helped the Bulls get a confidence-boosting win over Cincinnati, and he’ll look for a similar result when the USF men’s basketball team plays its final regular season game at Rutgers at 2 p.m Saturday.

“I think we started at the bottom (this season), and now we’re beginning to move our way up,” Jones said after USF’s 70-59 victory over UC on Tuesday. “I think this is step toward making history. We have four (Big East) wins and Saturday we’re going for five.”

Tuesday night was Jones’ fourth 30-point performance of the season and the seventh of his career. He ranks sixth in the Big East in scoring, averaging 18.5 points per game. Even Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin was impressed by Jones.

“He’s capable of beating you by himself,” Cronin said. “We’ve got to make sure that doesn’t happen. He could get 30 points and 10 assists.”

Jones has benefited from junior guard Chris Howard’s distribution. Howard has had at least 10 assists in two consecutive games, and had zero turnovers against UC.

“He’s really done a good job of making simple plays and looking for a guy like Dominique, and I thought he got the ball inside to (forward) Augustus (Gilchrist) well,” said USF coach Stan Heath. “He’s showing good leadership and poise. That’s what I want him to do, and I expect that.”

The Bulls are the No. 14 seed in the Big East tournament but are still waiting to see whom they’ll play. USF will face the No. 9 seed. Four teams are battling for that spot: Notre Dame (7-10), Seton Hall (6-10), Georgetown (6-11) and St. John’s (6-11).

No matter what team USF plays, freshman guard Justin Leemow, who tied a career-high nine points Tuesday, said the Bulls will carry confidence into the remaining schedule after their fourth Big East win.

“We can really build on this performance for when we got up to New Jersey, to New York, to the Big East tournament,” he said. “I could feel the mood of the team get better after the game.”