After escaping several games with last-second shots, No. 10 Memphis finally got burned.
Pryor finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds, and reserve Selton Miguel led USF with 23 points, going 5-of-10 from 3-point range. The Bulls (10-5, 3-1 American Athletic Conference) have won eight of nine and ended a 10-game winning streak for the Tigers (15-3, 4-1), who hadn’t lost since a narrow defeat at Ole Miss on Dec. 2. Memphis moved into the top 10 this week.
“This one hurts because we worked so hard to get to this level,” Memphis coach Penny Hardaway said.
South Florida became the fourth team since 2010-11 to come back from 20 points down to beat an AP top-10 opponent and is the first unranked team to do so since February 2011, when Colorado upset No. 5 Texas, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Thursday’s victory snapped the Bulls’ 38-game losing streak to AP-ranked opponents, including 31 straight losses against ranked conference opponents.
Coach Amir Abdur-Rahim was doused with a celebratory bucket full of water when he entered the postgame locker room.
“It’s not about us,” Abdur-Rahim said. “It’s about the University of South Florida. … This is a great win for the University of South Florida and this group of kids who allow us to push them.”
With the score tied at 73-all, Pryor took an inbound pass alone in the paint and elevated for a dunk but took a hard foul from Nae’Qwan Tomlin. Pryor made the first free throw but missed the second.
Asked if Memphis got complacent with the early big lead and the escapes in close games, Tomlin replied: “Probably.”
“[South Florida] came out and played real hard, so credit to them,” he said.
Memphis led 52-32 early in the second half, but USF responded by going on a 9-0 run with Pryor, Kobe Knox and Brandon Stroud each making a 3. The Bulls inched closer throughout the period, and Jayden Reid tied it with a layup with 37 seconds left, his only basket of the game. A turnover by Quinerly helped set up USF for Pryor’s decisive free throw.
Jones had 18 points in the first half, including a run of 11 straight, and Memphis led 47-32 at the break. The Tigers were effective in transition, finishing the half with a 17-0 advantage in fast-break points and scoring 14 points off eight Bulls turnovers.
“Bad loss,” Hardaway said. “National TV. Scoring 26 points in the second half after scoring 46 in the first. But when you are not playing team basketball that can happen.”
Abdur-Rahim said he believes the Bulls have the potential for more impressive wins this season.
“We’re not going to get drunk off success,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.