At times, it seemed more like Devon Clarke vs. Dominique Jones, rather than Iona vs. South Florida on Saturday night. If that’s the case, Jones certainly took the cake in this battle.

Jones scored a career high 36 points, leading USF to a 68-55 win over the Iona Gaels on at the Sun Dome.

Jones, a sophomore, was 12-of-16 from the field, 7-of-9 from three point range and 5-of-6 from the stripe.

“It just felt good out there,” Jones said. “I kind of felt like my old self again … I’m just trying to get my confidence back because I know my team needs me.”

Jones broke his previous career high of 31 with a three point shot from the top of the key with just over five minutes left in the game. The shot also gave the Bulls a 59-50 lead, their largest of the game at that time.

Freshman Justin Leemow, who made his first career start for USF, extended that lead to 11, just minutes later, with a three pointer to make it 62-51, seemingly putting the game out of reach.

It wasn’t necessarily smooth sailing for the Bulls, considering the second half alone saw four lead changes.The Gaels even led early in the second half despite trailing 34-29 at halftime.

Iona forward Devon Clarke was causing problems all night. Clarke scored 16 points, more than double his season average.

It has been rough sledding (excuse my holiday reference) for USF in the past couple weeks and wins are coming sparingly. The Bulls dropped two games out of three in Puerto Rico last weekend, and Coach Stan Heath said this win was especially encouraging.

“Physcolgically it’s huge for all of us, our team, our players and our coaches,” he said. “When we work out we’re in a P—- mood, just mad all the time, so it’s kind of good to maybe have a little bit of a smile on your face.”

The Bulls saw improvement in two key areas that they’ve struggled with this season. Coming into the game, USF was shooting 29 percent from behind the arc and 56 percent from the free throw line. On Saturday night, however, USF went 10-for-20 from three point range and 12-of-16 from the stripe.

South Florida will begin Big East play on Friday when they host Syracuse at the Sun Dome. Jones said the Big East conference is something he’s looking forward to playing on a regular basis.

“It seems like it’s going to be a really big challenge, but I think if we can stick together and play hard, then we can suprise a lot of people,” he said.

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