TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — South Florida is playing like a team that could end up getting some consideration for an NCAA tournament bid.
Hugh Robertson and Victor Rudd Jr. scored 14 points each as South Florida beat Villanova 65-51 on Wednesday night.
South Florida (16-10, 9-4 Big East) matched its highest victory total in conference play. The Bulls had a conference record of 9-9 during the 2009-10 season, and had just three Big East wins and 10 victories overall last season.
“I think this team is, definitely, good enough to be an NCAA team,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said of South Florida. “I thought it was just a real impressive performance by USF. I love their team. I love their toughness. It’s hard to prepare for them because they have so many weapons.”
South Florida also got 10 points apiece from Anthony Collins and Jawanza Poland.
“We just try and go out and win,” Collins said. “If we win, it will take care of everything.”
Maurice Sutton had 10 points for Villanova (11-14, 4-9). The Wildcats played without leading scorer Maalik Wayns (averaging 17.8 points a game) due to a sprained left knee.
“We tried him a little bit in warmups just in case, but I think he might be a little bit further away than we thought,” Wright said of Wayns, who has been listed as day-to-day.
Villanova, which had seven days off since beating Providence 74-72 on Feb. 7, started a stretch of three games in six days.
Robertson’s slam on a fastbreak and his two free throws during a 10-2 run helped put South Florida ahead 33-25 7 minutes into the second half.
“A lot of games we play, people say it’s a fluke, our success,” Robertson said. “We just want to come out and let people see it’s really real.”
Collins hit four free throws, with two coming after a technical was called on the Villanova bench, that extended the South Florida advantage to 37-27 with 12 minutes left.
“We played great defense,” South Florida coach Stan Heath said. “A good win for us.”
Villanova shot just 30.2 percent (16 of 53) for the game.
The Bulls took a 44-31 lead on Poland’s long-range jumper, and a 3-pointer from Rudd Jr. made it 59-39 late in the second half.
Dominic Cheek had five points, including a 3-pointer, as Villanova took an early 10-5 lead. After South Florida tied it at 20-all on Poland’s layup, neither team scored again over the final four minutes of the first half.
Wildcats freshman forward JayVaughn Pinkston, coming off a 28-point, 14-rebound performance against Providence, had just eight points. He made 1 of 13 shots.
South Florida also won the other meeting between the teams this season, 74-57 at Villanova on Jan. 5.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.