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Biggest regular season win for USF hoops
Posted Feb 29, 2012 by Joey Johnston
Updated Feb 29, 2012 at 11:48 PM
OK, I’ll go ahead and call it.
The University of South Florida’s 58-51 victory at No. 19-ranked Louisville on Wednesday night was the biggest regular-season win in USF’s men’s basketball history. Here are my top five regular-season USF wins. Key criteria: Significance. The win must lead to something. And obviously, barring a change in fortunes, we’re thinking that Wednesday night’s victory should lead to USF’s first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1992.
1. USF 58, No. 19 Louisville 51 (Feb. 29, 2012)— Happy Leap Day! USF has certainly leaped into nearly everyone’s consciousness (if not their NCAA brackets). It was USF’s first victory at Louisville since 1998 (but that was hardly a vintage Denny Crum club; in fact, it finished 12-20). It was USF’s first win against Rick Pitino-coached Louisville team (but not the first win against Pitino himself; USF 67, Boston University 61 at the Sun Dome in 1981). It was precisely what USF (now 19-11, 12-5 in the Big East Conference) needed to solidify its growing NCAA case.
2. USF 81, No. 15 Tulane 76 (Feb. 24, 1992)—Season highlight for the last USF team to make the NCAA Tournament. In an extremely hostile environment, on the eve of Mardi Gras, USF deflated Tulane and its vaunted “Posse’’ (the Green Wave would substitute five new players at a time). Bobby Russell’s 3-pointer provided the winning margin. Radenko Dobras, normally ultra-stoic, hit a pair of tack-on free throws, then blew kisses to the crowd, which rode him unmercifully all night long.
3. USF 72, No. 7 Georgetown 64 (Feb. 3, 2010)— Absolutely stunning result—and on the road, no less. It was the moment when the Dominique Jones-led Bulls became a legitimate force. The Bulls registered a 20-victory season and made the National Invitation Tournament.
4. USF 92, Florida State 88 (Dec. 20, 1991)— Before an absolutely frenzied sellout crowd of 10,411 at the Sun Dome, the Bulls earned the right to be called the best team in the state. Five days after winning on the road against the Florida Gators, the Bulls followed up with a pulsating victory against the Seminoles, who had just joined the ACC and opened with a victory at North Carolina. USF’s Gary Alexander had 28 points, including two clinching free throws. FSU, which won 22 games and wound up in the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16, featured four players who would become NBA first-round draft choices (Sam Cassell, Douglas Edwards, Bob Sura, Charlie Ward).
5. USF 70, No. 18 South Alabama 52 (Feb. 12, 1981)— In the Sun Dome’s opening season, under first-year coach Lee Rose, the Bulls registered the first victory against a ranked team in program history. It was the spark needed for USF to earn a spot in the National Invitation Tournament, the program’s first postseason appearance.