South Florida (17-11) has probably gotten itself off the Bubble and into the NIT with a 99-93 win over Providence. It’s been questioned whether the Bulls would even make the NIT after self-destructing in the month of February.
The Bulls have been back at full strength for two weeks roster wise, but haven’t gotten close to the team performances before Gilchrist got hurt. That was until tonight. For the first time since his injury, Augustus Gilchrist looked like his old self. He finished with 21 points and six rebounds in a dominating performance.
The biggest fan of Gilchrist’s offensive performance was Dominique Jones. The defensive attention “Big Gus” draws give Jones plenty of room to work, and work he did to the tune of 26 points and nine rebounds.
It wasn’t only Gilchrist helping take the offensive pressure off of Jones tonight. Chris Howard and Mike Mercer both had double figures as well. Chris Howard chipped in 20 points tonight in another solid performance from the senior guard. Mercer had another impressive performance with 18 points and seven rebounds, in what may have been his best game of the season.
USF shot 57 percent from the field, but only 27 percent from beyond the arc. It didn’t matter though, as the starters piled on the points. They fell just one point shy of their second 100 point performance on the season, ironically enough against Providence in overtime back in January.
The Bulls have one more cupcake in DePaul (8-20) before their final test of the regular season, Connecticut (17-11), comes to Tampa. The Bulls look to be on pace for a possible 19 win season assuming a probable loss to the Huskies and a win in the first round of the Big East tournament.
The Bulls will be back in action on Tuesday when they travel to take on the Blue Demons in their first and only match-up of the season. The tandem of Jones and Gilchrist should have one more chance to fine tune their skills in another easy win before things get dicey in early March.