USF freshman forward Chris Perry may have led the Bulls with 14 rebounds and came in second on the team in scoring with 14 pointsSaturday night against Alabama, but it was fellow freshman center John Egbunu who sealed a victory for USF with a blocked shot as the clock neared zero.
With 10.5 seconds left, USF junior point guard Anthony Collins went to the free throw line for two shots and a chance to extend the Bulls’ 65-64 lead.
Collins sunk the first shot and missed the second, forcing the Crimson Tide to push the ball and get a shot up in less than four seconds.
Alabama’s first shot missed, but the Crimson Tide rebounded the ball and got another shot up – the one Egbunu blocked – before Alabama threw up one last attempt that missed poorly.
“I was nervous when he shot the second time,” Perry said. “I thought I was about to black out. But when he missed it, I was good.”
In the end, USF (6-2) escaped with a win over Alabama (4-4) in its second straight down-to-the-wire finish after junior guard Corey Allen Jr.’s game-winner against George Mason.
“It’s a quality win,” coach Stan Heath said. “(Alabama) is a program that’s had three straight 20-win seasons. It wouldn’t surprise me if they found a way to win 20 again. I think they’ll finish in the top part of the SEC. I think that win will do a lot for us when it comes time to look at resumes.”
Perry’s 14-and-14 performance in 29 minutes stood out to Alabama coach Anthony Grant.
“Perry was outstanding,” he said. “He was a load. We had a difficult time containing him. To dominate the way he did as a freshman is really impressive.”
Collins has come to expect a double-double from Perry just eight games into his freshman year.
“I expect it from Chris,” he said. “I know what he’s capable of. Me not expecting a double-double would be me thinking less of him.”
While Collins said a win like this one is good for the freshmen on the team to gain experience in tight games against quality opponents, Heath said in the last two games USF has come together as a team and understood each other’s roles better than they have all season.
As for Egbunu’s last block, Collins has a suggestion on how to decrease some of the anxiousness next time.
“John you jump so high, just catch it,” Collins said. “It seems like it always goes to the other team. It’s not a block unless if the other team gets it back.”
USF has 10 days off before playing Florida Gulf Coast on Dec. 17.