Feb. 6, 2009

TAMPA, Fla. (AP)--Jesus Verdejo scored 21 points and Dominique Jones made a driving layup to put South Florida ahead with 15.9 seconds to go, and the Bulls held on Friday night for a 57-56 victory over No. 8 Marquette.

USF's first win over an opponent ranked in the top 10 snapped Marquette's 12-game winning streak and left the Big East without an unbeaten team in conference play. The Bulls (8-14, 3-7) led by as many as 10, but needed nine points from Verdejo in a five-minute span of the second half to keep the Eagles (20-3, 9-1) from taking over the game.

Marquette's Wesley Matthews missed a six-footer and Lazar Hayward's putback rolled off the rim as time expired, dropping the Eagles into second in the Big East behind No. 1 Connecticut.

Jerel McNeal led Marquette with 22 points before fouling out in the final minute. Dominic James and Matthews had 11 apiece, however the cold-shooting Eagles went 4-for-24 on 3-point attempts and were 10-of-23 from the foul line.

Jones finished with 15 for USF, but his inability to make free throws in the last minute ensured Marquette would have a chance to win at the buzzer. The Bulls' leading scorer with an 18.3-point average missed the front end of a 1-and-1 after McNeal drew his fifth foul with 54.1 seconds left, then failed to complete a three-point play on the basket that put USF up for good.

Marquette rallied from a 10-point deficit to trail 32-28 at the half. The Eagles used a 13-4 run to go up 47-42 with just over 8 minutes left, but Verdejo scored South Florida's next 11 points to keep the Bulls close.

James was 1-for-9 from behind the arc and reserve Maurice Acker was 0-for-3, with his biggest miss coming on an open 3 that USF rebounded and turned into Jones' go-ahead layup.

McNeal has scored at least 20 in seven consecutive games and moved ahead of Butch Lee into second place on Marquette's career scoring with 1,753 points--20 behind the school record of 1,773 set by George Thompson from 1996-69.