South Florida (12-16) at Rutgers (10-18)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 1, 12 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: The RAC (8,000) -- Piscataway, New Jersey. Television: ESPNews. Home Record: USF 7-9, Rutgers 9-9. Away Record: USF 5-5, Rutgers 1-9. Neutral Record: USF 0-2, Rutgers 0-0. Conference Record: USF 3-12, Rutgers 4-11. Series Record: Rutgers leads, 8-5.
GAME NOTES: Two teams stuck in reverse will try to change course right away, as the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and the South Florida Bulls collide in an American Athletic Conference tilt at the RAC on Saturday afternoon.
USF nearly pulled off a major upset on Wednesday, but eventually fell in a 61-56 final against Connecticut. The loss was the fifth straight for the Bulls, who are just 12-16 overall and tied with UCF for next-to-last in the AAC standings (3-12). They will visit Houston next before playing in their regular-season finale against Temple.
Rutgers is also enduring a losing streak, with setbacks in four straight following a 67-65 loss to UCF on Wednesday. The Scarlet Knights are only a bit better than the Bulls in terms of league play (4-11), but they have an inferior overall record (10-18). They visit UConn in their next contest.
The last time Rutgers landed in the win column was when it last faced USF on Feb. 8. The Scarlet Knights claimed a 79-69 victory in that contest, extending their lead in the short-lived series to 8-5.
Turnovers and 3-point shooting were the deciding factors in USF's recent loss to UConn. The Bulls were outscored, 27-9, from beyond the arc, and 20-6 off turnovers. Where the Bulls did have an advantage was on the boards (39-29). Victor Rudd tallied 14 points, eight rebounds and five assists in the loss.
USF's shortcomings on offense have kept it from really contending this season. The Bulls are last in the AAC in scoring (65.2 ppg), as well as assists (12.5 apg), while they shoot just 43.3 percent from the floor. Rudd (15.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg) has done his best to keep the team afloat, but to no avail with how much little support he receives. Corey Allen Jr. (9.4 ppg) is the next best scorer, but he is only connecting on 39.4 percent of his attempts from the floor. Martino Brock (9.2 ppg) and Chris Perry (9.2 ppg) have shown flashes of offensive ability, but neither have been all that consistent.
Rutgers led, 58-53, with just over two minutes to play against UCF, but the Scarlet Knights crumbled down the stretch. In the last two minutes they turned the ball over twice and went 1-of-5 from the floor to allow UCF to pull out the victory. Myles Mack dropped in 19 points as the leading scorer for the losing side.
Mack (15.5 ppg, 4.3 apg) has been consistent in terms of his point totals, but not in his efficiency. He is connecting on 40.5 percent of his attempts from the field, but he had been below 40 percent in three straight games before netting 7-of-13 against UCF. Kadeem Jack (14.4 ppg, 7 rpg) is the second option, forming a solid inside-outside duo with Mack. He had 12 points and nine rebounds against UCF, but he only connected on 5-of-14 field goal tries. J.J. Moore (10.5 ppg) gives the team some much-needed depth, while Jerome Seagears (8 ppg, 3.4 apg) can pass and hit shots from long range.
The Bulls already fell to the Scarlet Knights once this season. The result is unlikely to change now that USF finds itself on the road.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Rutgers 74, South Florida 70
03/01 10:16:33 ET