Two games into USF’s season, the Bulls haven’t missed a beat without injured junior point guard Anthony Collins.
USF (2-0) trounced undersized Bethune-Cookman (1-1), which started four guards, 91-65 Tuesday night. It was the first time USF scored more than 90 points since Feb. 27, 2010 against Providence.
Junior transfer guard Corey Allen Jr. stepped into Collins’ role as starting point guard for the second time and filled the stat sheet with a game-high 21 points, nine assists, seven rebounds, three steals and two blocks while Collins rested his sore knee.
“Corey had an outstanding game,” coach Stan Heath said. “With the pace he creates (and) the pressure he puts on the ball, he puts pressure on the other team.”
Allen hasn’t had a chance to provide a spark off the bench since he was thrust into the starting lineup, but unlike Bethune-Cookman, Allen seemed to deflect any pressure placed on him.
“It really doesn’t matter to me if I start or come off the bench,” Allen said. “I just take whatever minutes I get and produce.”
Senior forward Victor Rudd was Allen’s host when Allen visited USF and said Allen knew all along he’d be in a backup role because Collins averaged 34 minutes a game his during first two seasons.
“He knew that would be his role,” Rudd said. “He said from Day 1 he just wanted to contribute and help us win. He accepts that role.”
USF was 4-of-17 from three-point range, and while Heath said long-distance shooting is not a strength of the team, Allen was 3-of-3 on three-point shots, which is indicative of his versatility.
“If you dare him to shoot and his feet are set, he can knock it down,” Heath said. “He’s not hunting for threes, but he can score the ball. He averaged 17 to 18 points in junior college, with assists and rebounds. He can do a lot of different things.”
Heath said Collins’ absence has caused accelerated growth for Allen, and the Bulls are seeing the effects of it now. Heath expects to see continued benefits even when Collins returns.
“Corey was recruited as a guy that would play two guard and a little bit of one,” Heath said. “Now he’s converted himself to a guy that can play the one and the two. It gives us some speed, some luxury and some depth that we’ve never had before. It’s going to be really interesting. I definitely see those two guys playing well together.”
Heath said depth is the Bulls’ strength this year, and they need to be able to wear teams down. As USF entered halftime with a nine-point lead, Heath said the Bulls had to be persistent in the second half.
“We get a lead and try to play a little bit to the fans,” he said. “We did that in the first half. I told the guys to keep the foot on the pedal.”
USF pulled farther away in the second half, outscoring Bethune-Cookman 53-36 and ending up with five players in double figures.
Rudd added 14 points and two rebounds, and said he’d like to have out-rebounded Bethune-Cookman, who had one more team rebound than USF.
Two other players Heath envisioned playing together this season, are freshmen center John Egbunu and forward Chris Perry. Each had 20 minutes of play and contributed a combined 18 points and 14 rebounds.
Heath played the big men together several minutes while USF had a double-digit lead, which was a preview of things to come.
Heath said he planned to start both Perry and Egbunu against Bethune-Cookman but saw the four-guard lineup and “didn’t want Perry to have to chase them around.” Heath said he plans to start both freshmen Friday at Bowling Green at 8:30 p.m.