USF (2-0) got a solid performance out of the twisted Smith sisters on Tuesday night as they grinded out a nail-biting 75-73 overtime win at Clemson (0-2).
It was the Smith tide that raised the USF boat at Littlejohn Coliseum on Tuesday. A career-high 26 points from Andrell Smith boomed the Bulls. The senior shot 9-17 from the floor including a Steve Kerr-esque 6-for-9 performance from beyond the arc. (The all-time Big East record is 10, set by UConn's Maya Moore in 2009.) Smith's 25th and 26th points came on a layup with 31 seconds left to tie the game at 69 and eventually send the game into overtime.
After Andrell put the Bulls into overtime, it was Andrea Smith's turn to take the spotlight. Andrea poured in 15 points of her own on the night, five of which came in extra time. The Bulls outscored the Tigers 6-4 in the extra period to take the game.
This seems to be another classic, savvy, Jose Fernandez-coached Bulls team that is going to gut out a lot of their games late. Regardless of how close the games will be, this team has the tools to be the under-the-radar Big East team that I think they have the potential to be. Through two games, the Bulls have outrebounded their opponents 98-67 and are +2 in the turnover margin. Though it is early in the year, those statistics are key when Big East play starts. USF also may have the 6th "man" of the year in Andrea Smith. Though she may end up in the starting five, the senior has been the Bulls' microwave off the bench, averaging 16.5 points per game.
After deciding to redshirt Andrea Smith last year, does anyone look smarter than Jose Fernandez right now? It's early, but the Bulls look like one of the deepest teams in the Big East. The USF bench is outscoring their opponents 66-30.
The South Carolina soil suited USF. Unlike the Bulls' season opening performance in the Sun Dome, where they shot only 27%, USF posted a 42% effort against Clemson. If not the Littlejohn Coliseum, then maybe it was the halftime speech Jose Fernandez gave against Stetson that has dialed in the Bulls' shooters. Since the second half against Stetson, the Bulls are shooting 45% from the floor, 43% from behind the arc.
Up next for the Bulls is Bradley (1-1). The Braves will play Illinois on November 15th before their matchup with USF on November 20 at 5:00.