USF avenged its season-opening loss to the UCF Knights with a 65–56 victory in Orlando on Wednesday night. Anthony Collins and Victor Rudd both returned to the starting lineup as the Bulls wrapped up non-conference play at 9-3.
On Saturday Collins had to be carried off the court on a stretcher after suffering a neck injury. He returned to action against the Knights and delivered a double-double, recording 16 points and a game-high 10 assists. Rudd, who suffered a concussion in the final minutes of the Bulls' win over George Mason, finished with 13 points and 11 boards.
After Jawanza Poland opened the scoring with a layup, the Bulls led until UCF launched a 15-0 run to go up 27-19 with 3:05 left in the first half.
Musa Abdul-Aleem then knocked down back-to-back three’s to pull the Bulls to within two, and a clutch Toarlyn Fitzpatrick trey with just four seconds on the clock gave the USF the 28-27 lead heading to the locker room.
The Bulls kept that momentum rolling into the second half, opening on a 10-4 run. A Rudd slam dunk gave USF its largest lead, 47-34 with just over 13 minutes remaining.
UCF then mounted an 18-6 run to cut that deficit down to two, and with 2:29 left Isaiah Sykes stepped to the line with a chance to put the Knights in front. Sykes hit one attempt to pull the teams even at 53.
Collins in turn was fouled and hit the first of two attempts to give the Bulls the lead back. Fitzpatrick, who had been just 2-of-11 from the field, drained another key three-pointer to push the lead to 57-53. It was the first field goal USF had made in an 11-minute span.
Fitzpatrick netted 10 points on the night. Four Bulls finished in double figures, led by Poland's 18.
USF concluded its non-conference schedule with nine wins after going 7-6 outside of the Big East a season ago. The Bulls carry a four-game win streak into a big conference-opening test on Sunday, as they host No. 7 Syracuse at noon.