INTERVIEW WITH ANTHONY COLLINS
NEW YORK (AP)--Freshman Anthony Collins scored 17 points to lead South Florida to a 56-47 victory over Villanova on Wednesday night in the second round of the Big East Championship Central Presented by American Eagle Outfitters.
The sixth-seeded Bulls (20-12) lived up to their defensive reputation, holding their ninth straight opponent to less than 60 points. South Florida set the conference record this season by allowing just 56.9 points per game.
Victor Rudd Jr. added 13 points for South Florida, which will play third-seeded and 23rd-ranked Notre Dame in the quarterfinals on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.
Mouphtaou Yarou had 20 points for the 14th-seeded Wildcats (13-19), who finished one point above their lowest total for the season and who with 2 minutes to play were in jeopardy of breaking the Big East tournament record for fewest points in a game.
South Florida led 27-17 at halftime as Villanova went 5 for 25 from the field, including Maalik Wayns missing all eight shots, five from 3-point range. The Wildcats missed their first 10 shots from beyond the arc, with James Bell finally making their first one with 13:40 to play.
The Bulls weren't exactly lighting up the scoreboard but they shot 42.1 percent from the field (16 of 38), while Villanova was 17 for 50 (34 percent). South Florida, which turned over the ball 18 times, was 2 for 10 from 3-point range and Villanova was 3 of 16.
It was the third time South Florida beat Villanova this season and until this game the Bulls had held the Wildcats to their lowest first-half total of the season, 20 points.
Villanova trailed 46-35 with 2 minutes left but was able to score 12 points in the closing 1:42 to avoid the marks for offensive futility.
Wayns averaged 24 points in the three games since returning from a sprained MCL in his left knee, including 28 in the opening-round win over Rutgers. But he had nine points on 3-of-14 shooting against the Bulls and that included missing all seven of his 3-point attempts.
This was the second straight year South Florida beat Villanova in the Big East tournament. The Bulls won 70-69 in the opening round last year.