USF is starting to get the rest of the Big East’s attention. That’s if it hasn’t already.
Riding the school’s first three-game Big East win streak in program history, the Bulls climbed to a level of greater heights after erasing a 13-point, first-half deficit and upsetting No. 7 Georgetown 72-64 on the road Wednesday night – one of the program’s biggest wins.
“I don’t know how (Georgetown) viewed us, but we didn’t really care about that,” said USF coach Stan Heath. “We want to start to earn a little more respect. We just felt like (people thought), ‘Hey, we’re kind of like that team that’s part of the Big East.’ I think now people take a little more notice.”
USF (15-7, 5-5), which has five wins in the Big East for the first time, put together a 30-13 run in the second half led by junior guard Dominique Jones to take the lead 56-48 with 6:28 to play. He scored 22 of his game-high 29 points in the second half.
When Jones, who’s now scored 20 or more in nine straight games, walked over to the traveling USF radio crew after the game, he said his “heart was beating too fast” to do a postgame interview.
“He made some great plays on both ends of the court,” Heath said. “A couple times they tried to backdoor cut him, he stole the ball. A couple times it looked like we were getting beat off the dribble, he came out of nowhere and swiped the ball. Those were some key plays.”
Senior guard Chris Howard, a native of Maryland, who was playing in front of family on rare occasion, said it was a perfect night.
“It’s big just to do it in my hometown,” he said. “A lot of people didn’t think we could come in here and beat a team like Georgetown. We came here and got it done – not just in front of my family, but a lot of friends who saw me grow up in the area and play.”
USF is now eighth in the Big East, trailing by a game two teams it just beat: Georgetown (16-5, 6-4) and Pittsburgh (16-6, 6-4). But here’s a term being tossed around that hasn’t been uttered often in the program’s history: NCAA Tournament.
The Bulls are in the top 60 of the RPI standings and will likely skyrocket even more after beating the Hoyas – the second consecutive win against a ranked opponent. USF faces Notre Dame on the road at noon on Sunday.
“In the back of my mind … we have a chance to make the tournament – something that hasn’t been talked about in a long time,” Howard said.