FACTS & STATS: Site: USF Sun Dome (10,411) -- Tampa, Florida. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Providence 9-4, USF 8-6. Away Record: Providence 2-5, USF 2-7. Neutral Record: Providence 1-2, USF 0-0. Conference Record: Providence 4-7, USF 1-10. Series Record: Series is tied, 6-6.
GAMES NOTES: Hoping to build on a short two-game winning streak the Providence Friars visit the South Florida Bulls for a Big East Conference clash at the USF Sun Dome.
A 54-50 win over then No. 17 Cincinnati last Wednesday earned Providence back- to-back wins for the first time since a six-game winning streak back in December. The Friars have been making a habit of playing in close games as each of their last six contests have been decided by six points or fewer. Overall Providence has fought to stay above .500 with a mark of 12-11 but at 4-7 in league play is closer to the bottom of the Big East standings. Providence will return home to host Notre Dame in its next bout.
Any thought that South Florida might use its surprising run in the NCAA Tournament last year as a launching pad to success this season is long gone. The Bulls have lost six straight games and 10 of their last 11 to fall to 10-13 overall and a miserable 1-10 in Big East action. The Bulls' next chance to improve on their otherwise tough season will be on Sunday against No. 12 Louisville.
Last season South Florida swept the season series to earn its fifth win in the last six games with Providence and even the all-time series at six wins a piece.
Though it had its lead cut to a single point twice in the final four minutes against Cincinnati, Providence was able to hold on against the Bearcats. The Friars held the Bearcats to just 37.5 percent shooting in the game while getting a strong performance out of Kadeem Batts (25 points, nine rebounds).
Perhaps most impressive about Providence's win over Cincinnati was that even though Big East leading scorer Bryce Cotton (20.9 ppg) managed just 11 points on 2-of-10 shooting, the Friars still found a way to win. Cotton had scored at least 18 points in each of the previous nine games before the struggles he had against the Bearcats. Batts (14.3 ppg, 7.1 rpg) really stepped up to fill the void. The 6-foot-9 forward has been a steady contributor all season. LaDontae Henton (13.2 ppg, 8.0 rpg) is another solid scorer and rebounder in the frontcourt, while Vincent Council (9.6 ppg, 7.0 apg) excels in running the offense. Even with those efforts Providence is still in the lower half in terms of scoring (67.7 ppg) and shooting (.417 FG percentage) in the Big East.
South Florida suffered a 68-40 rout at the hands of Villanova last outing. The Bulls managed to collect just 11 total field goals in the contest while shooting just 23.4 percent from the field, including a mere 1-of-17 showing from beyond the arc.
It is offensive ineptitude that has kept South Florida down this season. The Bulls rank dead last in the conference across most offensive categories, including scoring (59.7 pg), assists (11.4 pg) and field-goal percentage (.393). South Florida is also the worst rebounding team in the Big East (32.3 pg). It's too bad since the Bulls can really play on defense as they have held teams to 62.1 points per game and 41.6 percent shooting. Toarlyn Fitzpatrick (10.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg) and Victor Rudd (10.7 ppg, 6.6 rpg) represent the only players on the roster scoring in double figures. Anthony Collins (8.9 ppg, 6.4 rpg) is second in the conference in assists.
Though they won't run away with the game, Providence has a lot of talent for a team at the bottom of the Big East and more than enough to get past the hapless Bulls.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Providence 69, South Florida 63
02/13 10:36:11 ET
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