- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 28, 2014

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - Victor Rudd scored 21 points and Chris Perry tied a career high with 18, leading South Florida to a 78-71 victory against Southern Methodist on Tuesday night.

Corey Allen Jr. also finished with 18 for South Florida (11-10, 2-6, American Athletic Conference), which converted its last 15 free throws to seal the victory. Perry, the four-time conference rookie of the week, added a team-high eight rebounds.

“I woke up this morning feeling good, so I told myself I wasn’t going to have another bad game. I’ve been playing awful lately,” Perry said. “I just made sure my preparation for the game was better. Being positive, I guess.”

Nic Moore scored 23 points to lead SMU (16-5, 5-3), which was outscored in the paint for the first time this season at 38-28. Ben Moore and Markus Kennedy each had 11 points, and Nick Russell added 10 for the Mustangs.

“I thought tonight we just had positive energy and total focus towards what we needed to do to find a way to win against SMU. It was a great team effort,” USF coach Stan Heath said.

Both teams began slowly with only two field goals apiece midway through the first half. South Florida led 30-29 at the break after five lead changes. There were a dozen more after the intermission.

Early in the second half, Rudd hit a pair of free throws to tie the game at 35 and become the 18th player in school history to reach the 1,000-point mark.

The loss for Southern Methodist ended a five-game winning streak that began with a 71-54 rout of South Florida in Dallas.

“We needed it to boost our confidence. You get down when you lose a lot of a games,” Rudd said. “And this is a good game to win because, the way they did us down there at SMU was pretty bad. We knew we could beat this team.”

The Mustangs were seeking to go 13 games over .500 for the first time since the 1999-00 season.

“I thought they did an unbelievable job. They outcoached us, they outplayed us,” SMU coach Larry Brown said. “If I’m in that locker room there, I’m pretty proud of my team, because they played hard and they had some great performances. I didn’t think one guy on their team that played didn’t contribute.”

South Florida made 53 percent of its shots from the floor (26 of 49) against a team that came in ranked second in the nation defensively at 36.2 percent.

“I don’t know where we got it from, but we’ll try to ride it out,” Heath said. “I think we can really build off of this.”

The Bulls finished with a 14-2 scoring advantage off the fast break and 27-21 off the bench to win for only the third time in 11 games since an 8-2 start and snap a four-game home losing streak.