It was just the seventh road win in the seven seasons since the Bulls (9-7, 2-1) joined the league.
Maalik Wayns scored 17 points to pace Villanova (7-8, 0-3), which lost its third straight and sixth in eight games.
It was just the second loss in the last 53 games for the Wildcats at the Pavilion, their on-campus arena. The only other defeat during the stretch came Feb. 12 to Pitt last season.
South Florida made 5 of 8 shots in the first 5 minutes after halftime to take a 43-32 lead. The Bulls had their largest lead, 48-36, with 12:19 remaining when Toarlyn Fitzpatrick hit a 3-pointer.
But the Wildcats, helped by seven straight points from JayVaughn Pinkston, scored the next nine points to pull within 48-45 with 9:03 left.
The Bulls responded, though, as Poland scored seven during a 9-2 run over the next 2:50, capped by a 3-pointer that made it 57-47 with 5:49 left. And it was 60-49 with 5:07 left when Victor Rudd converted a dunk after a pretty no-look pass from Blake Nash.
Villanova never got within double-digits the rest of the way.
The Wildcats shot 19-for-51 (37.3 percent) from the field and 4-for-20 (20 percent) from the arc, while South Florida was 24-for-52 (46.2) and 6-for-15 (40.0).
USF outrebounded the Wildcats 38-26.
Wayns and Dominic Cheek were benched at the start of the game, just the second time each didn’t start this season, due to a minor issue in practice, according to a Villanova spokesperson.
Villanova coach Jay Wright started four of his five freshmen: Tyrone Johnson, Darrun Hilliard, Markus Kennedy and Achraf Yacoubou.
The Wildcats took their biggest lead early in the game when they scored 12 of the first 16 points to go up 12-4 on Wayns’ 3-pointer seven minutes into the contest. USF took its first lead on Nash’s 3-pointer with 5 minutes left in the period and took its largest lead, 23-19, with 4:22 remaining on Rudd’s three-point play that capped a 12-2 spurt over 4:14.
The Bulls finished the half up 27-25.
Both teams struggled in the opening 20 minutes from the field, combining to shoot 19-for-49 (38.8 percent) overall and 4-for-12 (33.3 percent) from the arc.
It was the second straight win over Villanova for the Bulls, who came back from a 16-point halftime deficit to defeat the Wildcats 70-69 in the first round of the Big East tournament last season.
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