South Florida (12-17) at Houston (15-14)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, March 4, 8:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Hofheinz Pavilion (8,479) -- Houston, Texas. Television: ESPNews. Home Record: USF 7-9, Houston 11-4. Away Record: USF 5-6, Houston 3-8. Neutral Record: USF 0-2, Houston 1-2. Conference Record: USF 3-13, Houston 7-9. Series Record: Series is tied, 10-10.
GAME NOTES: The final week of the regular season in the American Athletic Conference finds the Houston Cougars hosting the South Florida Bulls at Hofheinz Pavilion tonight.
South Florida started off the season well enough with four straight wins, but those victories came against questionable competition and since then the squad has won just eight more times. In fact, since grabbing eight wins in the first 10 outings, there have been only four more positive outcomes for the Bulls.
Over the weekend, the team was tripped up by Rutgers on the road by a single point, 74-73, marking the sixth loss in a row for the program as it fell to 3-13 in conference, tied with UCF for next-to-last in the standings.
Meanwhile, the Cougars are enjoying their first three-game win streak in about two months, thanks in part to an 89-79 defeat of Temple in Philadelphia over the weekend. With the victory, Houston is now 7-9 in conference play and that has the program alone in sixth place coming into the week.
The first meeting of the season took place in the Sunshine State in early January, with the visitors posting a 67-58 win, which means the all-time series now stands at an even 10-10, with Houston having won five of the last six encounters.
In a game that featured eight ties and 12 lead changes, the Bulls saw a 15- point minutes into the second half completely disappear and turn into a one- point loss at Rutgers in New Jersey on Saturday afternoon. Victor Rudd ended up with a game-high 26 points and pulled down nine rebounds for the visitors, followed by John Egbunu and Zach Leday added 12 and 10 points, respectively, the former also clearing five rebounds and blocking four shots.
In conference play, Rudd leads the scoring for the Bulls with his 15.3 ppg, the only player in double figures at the moment. Rudd is also tops with 6.7 rpg, which should be reason enough for him to give up his persistent efforts out behind the 3-point line where he is just 15-of-62 (.242). As a unit, USF is a mere 24.6 percent accurate on the outside and that's just one of the main reasons why they are generating only 62.1 ppg.
TaShawn Thomas tallied 24 points, leading four players in double figures, as the Houston Cougars took down the Temple Owls by double figures in AAC play at the Liacouras Center over the weekend. Danrad Knowles dropped in 19 points, Danuel House 13 and nine rebounds, followed by Jherrod Stiggers with 10 points for the Cougars. Ahead by as many as 14 points in the contest, the Cougars finished the night knocking down 61.5 percent from the floor, including 7- of-12 out on the perimeter.
As the only player to have started every game for the Cougars, it stands to reason that Thomas is also the top scorer overall for the program with his 16.0 ppg, stemming from 59.4 percent shooting from the field. Thomas is also tops on the glass (8.2 rpg) and has rejected a team-best 81 shots, the rest of the unit coming up with 85 rejections, but his mere 60.9 percent shooting at the free-throw line is less than impressive.
Judging by the lackluster offense for the Bulls, the chances of USF pulling off a win on the road tonight is pretty much slim to none, especially since the Cougars still have a chance to move up in the standings before the end of the season.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Houston 77, South Florida 62
03/04 10:33:57 ET