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College basketball

USF avenges defeat 62-47

The win over Houston helps erase an earlier bitter loss to the Cougars.

By PETE YOUNG, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 16, 2003

TAMPA -- South Florida's 62-47 win Saturday over Houston was a full-service victory.

There was stifling defense, which held Houston (6-15, 4-6 C-USA) to its season-low point total.

"We played with a greater sense of urgency defensively," said USF coach Seth Greenberg, whose team improved to 13-9, 6-5. "We just made a commitment to getting stops."

There was a sparkling all-around performance from Reggie Kohn (team highs of 17 points, seven assists and six steals), who avenged his worst game of the season, a Jan. 29 loss at Houston.

"He really had a good game," Greenberg said. "He had a passion."

And there was a little something extra for the 3,691 at the Sun Dome. With Houston lingering in striking distance, a minor dustup between USF's Brandon Brigman and Houston's Louis Truscott and a questionable foul incited the crowd. The Bulls responded by turning the final eight minutes into a SportsCenter showcase.

Among the highlights:

A Jimmy Baxter alley-oop slam on the fastbreak.

"(Brian) Swift threw (it) to the top of the Sun Dome, and he still caught it and dunked it," Greenberg said. "That thing was in the air for about 10 minutes."

A Yusuf Baker spinning reverse slam in traffic without coming down after snatching a wayward shot by Swift.

The showstopper: Baxter, the two-time C-USA high jump champion, swooping in from the baseline, leaping high for a rebound and whipping it through the rim.

"I was just going for the rebound," said Baxter, who had 16 points and a team-high nine rebounds.

Added center Will McDonald: "The guys on our team are so athletic, and that's the way they want to finish it."

Kohn then swished a 30-footer and connected with Baxter for another slam with a minute to go.

It was sweet redemption for Kohn. In the 59-57 loss at Houston, the senior point guard was 0-for-10 shooting, 0-for-7 on 3s. Saturday he made 5 of 11 3s.

"I got a lot of open looks (at Houston), I just couldn't make anything," he said. "I figured if they played the same way, I'd get a lot of open looks, it was just a matter of if I would knock them down."

Added Greenberg: "I think it was important for him to play well. I think he really felt bad after the game at Houston. Reggie takes winning personally. He's a basketball kid -- winning is important to him."

USF stuck to its 3-2 zone most of the game, successfully mixing in a three-quarter-court trapping zone while holding Houston to five fewer points than any USF opponent this season. The Bulls exploited a 15-8 turnover margin for a 19-0 edge in points after turnovers.

The defense spied Houston's 3-point specialist, Andre Owens (13.9 ppg). Owens had 23 points and five 3s in the first game against the Bulls, but Houston coach Ray McCallum was frustrated with the lack of production from Owens (seven points) and leading scorer and rebounder Truscott (seven points, 13 rebounds). He used his second unit for first nine minutes of the second half.

It was the Cougars' best stretch. They trimmed a 32-19 halftime deficit to 44-37, but got no closer.

The win kept the Bulls close to the National Division lead. They will try to break an entrenched pattern: They are 1-8 on the road heading into Tuesday's game at Tulane.

"We need to get some more road wins. It's killing me," Baxter said. "Ever since I got here, South Florida has been more comfortable at home than on the road. But we've got to fight the trials and tribulations when we're on the road. Just buckle down and do what we've got to do to win."

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