USF 70, Pittsburgh 61. This was the game I was waiting for before I was ready to declare that USF basketball in general and Dominique Jones in particular were legit. The Providence game was played at a breakneck pace with a wildly unlikely comeback by the Bulls, and if you score 109 points then it's not totally impossible for someone to put up 46 like DoJo did. And I thought the Seton Hall win was kind of lucky. The Pirates got 17 offensive rebounds and somehow couldn't capitalize, and there were several plays where USF had the shot clock on their back and made difficult shots - all of which they needed just to get into overtime.
There was no question today. The Bulls deserved this win. They never trailed (the game was only tied twice, at 2-2 and 22-22), held Ashton Gibbs and Brad Wanamaker pretty much in check, dealt with some let-it-go officiating that favors a physical team like the Panthers, and every time Pittsburgh challenged them, someone rose up to make a big play and hold them off. My favorite play was Mike Mercer sneaking up behind Gary McGhee after a rebound and stealing the ball with under a minute to go and the Bulls up by 5. It had me standing up and yelling at my laptop screen. (By the way, whoever thought up ESPN 360 should get a Nobel Prize or something. Without it, there's no way I could even attempt this.)
And DoJo - holy hell. He was not going to let USF lose the game. 39 minutes, 37 points, 8 rebounds, 14-for-17 from the line, getting almost any shot he wanted. The guy was unstoppable against a team with some serious defensive cred. The ESPN regional crew calling the game started comparing him to Dwyane Wade, obviously setting the table for some of that trademark ESPN hype to come rolling his way. DoJo is rapidly approaching Big Man on Campus status and is almost unquestionably the best player to ever suit up for the Bulls.
Gus Gilchrist is supposedly coming back on Wednesday, just in time for three straight road games - at Georgetown, at Notre Dame, and at Marquette. Even with him back in the lineup, this is likely to be a tough stretch. But you have to feel like the Bulls at least have a shot in these games, instead of them being the grim death marches they looked like they would be even a month ago.