CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Being ranked for the first time in school history hasn't impacted South Florida's momentum.

Chris Youngblood scored 17 points, Kasean Pryor had 16 points and nine rebounds, and the 25th-ranked Bulls beat Charlotte 76-61 on Saturday for their 14th straight win, clinching the American Athletic Conference regular-season title outright.

Selton Miguel chipped in with 13 points for the Bulls (22-5, 15-1), who haven't lost since Jan. 7 and entered the AP Top 25 for the first time ever earlier this week.

“It's different, and I'm not going to give you some coach speak that it's not,” South Florida coach Amir Abdur-Rahim said. “You have a different target on your back now."

But he said he's stressed to his players that they need to focus on “the same old boring habits” to continue winning.

“There’s still a lot of season left and if you want to rest on being ranked we aren’t going to make as much noise as we can,” Abdur-Rahim said.

Last year Florida Atlantic, another American Athletic Conference team, surged late in the season and made a memorable run to the Final Four. Abdur-Rahim believes the conference is loaded this year with four or five teams deserving of making the NCAA Tournament.

Lu’Cye Patterson had 17 points for Charlotte (17-11, 11-5), which had its eight-game home win streak snapped.

Charlotte entered the game looking for its second home victory over a Top 25 team after upsetting then-No. 17 Florida Atlantic 70-68 on Jan. 6.

And the 49ers were sharp early on, jumping out to a 12-7 lead against the Bulls after making 5 of 9 shots to open the game. But the Bulls would storm back to take a 33-28 lead at the break, stepping up their defense and holding the 49ers to 5-of-18 shooting for the remainder of the first half.

Pryor's 3-pointer from the corner gave the Bulls their first double-digit lead less than two minutes into the second half and Charlotte never mounted a serious challenge.

Pryor drove across the lane a few moments later, dribbled between his legs and made a step-back jumper from the foul line while drawing a foul for a 3-point play to increase the lead.

Charlotte continued to struggle with missed shots and turnovers in the second half, and Kobe Knox scored on back-to-back offensive rebounds, including a powerful two-handed dunk to push the lead to 17.

There was a controversial moment with 2:47 remaining when Pryor grabbed a defensive rebound and, while struggling to find an outlet due to a three-man trap under the basket, threw a hard pass directly into the face of Charlotte's Igor Milicic, causing him to fall to the floor.

Officials reviewed the play but determined it wasn't worthy of an intentional foul.

After the replay was shown on the scoreboard, Pryor was booed loudly every time he touched the ball for the remainder of the game, and the Halton Arena crowd erupted with cheers when he missed a free throw with about two minutes remaining.

Charlotte coach Aaron Fearne said he doesn't think Pryor meant to hit Milicic in the face.

“I don’t think so," Fearne said. “I think he was in trouble and falling out of bounds near the baseline.”

Pryor was not made available after the game for interviews.


South Florida: The Bulls survived their first week in the AP Top 25 with wins over Southern Methodist and Charlotte. They've won 20 of their last 21 games overall will be the No. 1 overall seed. They should be a lock to make the NCAA Tournament even if they falter in conference play.

Charlotte: The 49ers were picked to finish 13th in the AAC this season, but have exceeded expectations and have been competitive in nearly every conference game. But this was the 49ers' third straight loss, so they don't have a lot momentum with the conference tourney approaching.


South Florida: Host Tulane on Tuesday night.

Charlotte: Host Rice on Wednesday night.


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