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B.B. Waldon and Altron Jackson combine for 53 as USF tops Tulane 85-70 to reach 3-0 in C-USA for the first time.
By ANTONYA ENGLISH
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 14, 2001
TAMPA -- If you want to know just how much has changed with the South Florida men's basketball team this season, consider this: B.B. Waldon and Altron Jackson combined for 53 points and the Bulls defeated Tulane by 15 Saturday night.
And the two junior forwards said they didn't have their A game.
With their self-graded B game on display, they helped South Florida defeat Tulane 85-70 in front of 5,811 at the Sun Dome.
The Bulls continued their dominance at home, having gone 18-2 at the Sun Dome over the past 20 games.
The win, with what the players considered less than their best effort in the second half, is a sign of the times.
"I can think back plenty of times when we played good in the first half and the second half went down," Jackson said. "It's all part of maturing. We're growing up."
South Florida (11-4) has won nine of its past 10 games and is 3-0 in Conference USA play for the first time in school history.
South Florida led 44-28 at halftime after dominating from the tipoff.
On a team with many players who can step up, Waldon and Jackson led the way with 28 and 25 points, respectively.
"We came out a little flat in our last (home) game, but good players come back and get ready for the next one," said Jackson, who also had seven rebounds and four assists.
The Bulls took a 12-3 lead five minutes into the game. Tulane (7-8, 0-3) managed to pull within 14-9 on a long three-pointer from Brandon Spann, but that was as close as the Green Wave would get.
South Florida shot 50 percent from the field (11-for-22) in the first 12 minutes to take a 24-15 lead with 8:24 left in the half. The Bulls kept Tulane off-balance, particularly in the first half, with their 1-3-1 defense.
"Give South Florida credit; they did a great job in the 1-3-1 and getting us on our heels," Tulane coach Shawn Finney said. "We came out tentatively. In the first half they had 18 points off offensive rebounds, but we did a better job in the second half. We were able to attack more and we made it a game."
Therein lies the reason for the less-than-perfect grades the Bulls gave themselves. Despite its 16-point halftime deficit, the Green Wave refused to roll over.
After trailing by as many as 19, Tulane pulled within 60-48 with 9:27 remaining. But the Bulls responded with a 9-3 run to pull away for good.
"We came out in the second half flat again," Waldon said. "Once we get on top ... we need to come out in the second half and jump right back on them and let them know there's no chance (to come back)."
South Florida had 10 assists in the first half, 21 in the game, including a game-high seven for Cedric Smith, who also had 13 points.
"I'm happy we won the basketball game," said South Florida coach Seth Greenberg, adding that he saw room for improvement. "We got off to a good start, then we ran out of gas, we lost focus. But give them credit. We ran out of gas and they were the reason. It was a win. Every game is not going to be a Rembrandt."
Tulane committed 26 turnovers, its second-highest total of the season. South Florida held the Green Wave to 26 percent shooting from the field in the first half, 38 percent for the game. It was the 10th consecutive opponent the Bulls have held to 40 percent or less. The Bulls shot 51.6 percent from the field but didn't hit a three-pointer.
Ladaryl Billingsley led Tulane with 23 points and nine rebounds and Linton Johnson and Spann added 14.