Junior forward Kasean Pryor recorded a career-high 29 points Friday in the Yuengling Center to help the Bulls make a comeback against Rice 81-73.
USF (9-5, 2-1 AAC) redeemed itself with a victory after losing its six-game win streak against UAB on Sunday.
Rice (6-10, 0-3 AAC) entered the game with no conference victories and three consecutive losses, but still gave South Florida a tough time by winning the first half.
Bulls coach Amir Abdur-Rahim was impressed with Pryor’s versatility as he recorded a career-high five steals and blocks each.
“Coaching him is like being in the wilderness and having a Swiss Army knife – he can do so many different things,” Abdur-Rahim said.
After recording just two points in the first half, Pryor made 27 points in the second and scored eight in a row. This gave USF its first lead at 70-68 with two minutes remaining.
USF cost itself the first half by not grabbing enough rebounds, racking up only 12 compared to Rice’s 27.
Sophomore guard Kobe Knox led the scoring in the first period with 12 points and ended with a buzzer-beating three-pointer.
Knox recorded his fifth overall and third consecutive double-digit scoring outing of the season.
“Kobe is starting to come into his own. He’s starting to be Kobe Knox,” Abdur-Rahim said. “[Because of] his resolve and perseverance, he didn’t get down on himself. He just kept working, and it’s paying dividends now, right at the right time.”
The Bulls forced 12 turnovers in the second half, scoring 17 fastbreak points and 28 off of turnovers. USF also had 18 total assists and four players recorded double-digit points against the Owls.
Abdur-Rahim said he was happy with USF spreading out its scoring compared to its seven assists in its previous game.
“When you have four different players scoring – I’ll take it all night,” Abdur-Rahim said. “The great part about our team is that next game we might have somebody else get twenty-some points. It’s like pick your poison and it gets you playing in March, and that is the goal.”
The win marked the Bulls’ third American Athletic Conference game this season with the AAC championship coming up in March. Abdur-Rahim said he is looking forward to facing tougher challenges.
“What it’s [next game against Memphis] about is, another opportunity for us to get better and test ourselves against an NCAA tournament team,” Abdur-Rahim said. “It’s another opportunity to prove we’re good enough to play in that four-letter tournament.”
USF will travel to Tennessee to take on No.15 Memphis next Thursday at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN and ESPN2.