Anthony Collins entered the starting lineup for the first time this season, but USF needed a big performance from Corey Allen Jr. to pull out a 72-63 victory over Stetson at the Sun Dome.
"We were very fortunate to win the game," head coach Stan Heath said after being down one to the Hatters (0-5) with as little as 4:30 to play. The Bulls struggled to contain the Stetson frontcourt, which had starters Kentwan Smith, Willie Green, and Kyle Sikora combine to shoot 18-27 from the field. Overall the Hatters shot 28-53 from the field, including 4-8 from three point land. The defensive effort from the Bulls, particularly in the first half, was desperately wanting. From guys running under obvious ball screens to lollygagging back in transition, no player stood out as even serviceable until late in the contest.
Asked if the team was guilty of looking past Stetson towards their tilt with OK State on Monday, Heath replied "we should be in jail." Allowing a team with losses to FAMU and FIU to outrebound you 31-27 while allowing 0.98 points per possession is a cause for incarcerating concern.
Corey Allen Jr. led the Bulls on both ends of the floor, picking up 19 points and four rebounds, but his six steals were the highlight plays. Several of the pilfers ended up on the other end as layups and dunks for the junior from St. Louis, Mo. Collins added 15 points and six assists, while Martino Brock's 10 points were outweighed by his strong defensive effort.
The Bulls (4-0) had struggled from three-point range all season, but broke out with a 7-15 performance led by Collins going 3-4 from deep.
The Bulls get ready for Marcus Smart and the Oklahoma State Cowboys on Monday night at 7pm on ESPNNEWS. It's the first time the Bulls have hosted a Top 10 team in an out-of-conference game since Dec. 8th, 2001, a 92-73 loss to the Florida Gators.
When asked after the game who would guard Smart, Brock, Allen Jr., and Collins all replied "it doesn't matter," at the same time. Heath indicated Allen Jr. would probably start on the All-American, but the Bulls will use lots of bodies to contain one of the best players in the country.