Coming off a hard-fought loss to the defending national champion Connecticut team, Stan Heath's Bulls stunned Rutgers, a team coming off an upset victory of its own over Florida, 67-65, when Collins made the key play that Bulls' fans expect they will see a lot of over the years.
"The plan was to come up the lane and look for (Jawanza Poland)," Collins said. "Coach said if you have an opening just go for it."
He saw the opening and went for it, hitting a basket with 12.7 seconds left and making a free throw that proved the difference when Rutgers' Eli Carter's jumper at the buzzer clanked off the rim.
Heath wanted Collins making the play for him, even if he is a freshman.
"I had a lot of confidence at the end of the game that the ball was definitely going to be in his hands," Heath said. "He was going to make the play."
And that's the way they plan for it to be at USF over the next few years. Collins has played only nine games so far, starting seven, has averaged only 6.9 points but he has an un-freshman-like 45 assists and just 24 turnovers.
The hard-fought victory proved to payback for two very tough defeats that make the Bulls' record deceiving. They lost to national champion UConn 60-57 and to Southern Miss 53-51 before pulling out this one.
All of this, of course, is getting USF ready for what lies ahead.
"It's just gaining a lot of experience," senior Ron Anderson Jr. said. "We're going to need that when we come down to the Big East Tournament. It's good to have games like this."
--The Bulls had a lead over Connecticut before the opening tipoff. How, you ask? UConn was assessed a penalty when it didn't have its starting lineup submitted on time. Just goes to show you how valuable a coach Jim Calhoun is, as he was sitting out that game on suspension.
--The Connecticut game was unique in USF history, being the first time in their 41 years of basketball that they ever faced a defending national champion.
BY THE NUMBERS: 1 -- The number of home losses suffered by South Florida this year, that being a 3-point loss to defending national champion Connecticut.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We didn't have an answer for Ron Anderson. Ron enforced his will upon this game and bullied our guys." -- Rutgers coach Mike Rice about senior Ron Anderson Jr., who scored a team-high 15 points and had six offensive rebounds in USF's 67-65 victory.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAMES:
--at Villanova, Jan. 5
KEY MATCHUPS: A one-game week for the Bulls, who take their improving team and run against a Villanova team that has underperformed to date. Villanova has not played good defense, which could make it vulnerable for a team whose weakness is scoring the ball. If South Florida can push the ball behind freshman Anthony Collins against the Wildcats they may be able to make something happen. They do need to find a way to do something with Maalik Wayns, the Cats high scorer at 17.6 points a game.
FUTURES MARKET: In just his second game as Bull, sophomore transfer Victor Rudd put up 30 points, hitting 11 of 12 field goals against Marist. Rudd was the first Bull to reach 30 points since Augustus Gilchrist scored 32 against DePaul on Feb. 26, 2011. He is third on the team in scoring.
--With his second basket in the Southern Miss loss, senior Augustus Gilchrist became the 18th Bull to score 1,000 points in his career. He is the first to do it since Dominique Jones reached 1000 points two years ago.
--Senior Hugh Robertson has been a solid rebounder for South Florida, but nothing spectacular. That all changed with his performance against Florida A&M when he pulled down a career high 21 rebounds. That is the most rebounds in the NCAA this season and ties for the ninth most rebounds in a game in Big East history.Click here to share your thoughts with other USF fans!