South Florida (11-11) at UCF (9-10)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, February 5, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: CFE Arena (10,000) -- Orlando, Florida. Television: ESPN News. Home Record: USF 7-6, UCF 8-4. Away Record: USF 4-3, UCF 1-6. Neutral Record: USF 0-2, UCF 0-0. Conference Record: USF 2-7, UCF 1-7. Series Record: South Florida leads, 20-5.
GAME NOTES: The UCF Knights will try to stop a lengthy losing streak when they host the South Florida Bulls in a Sunshine State affair at CFE Arena.
USF hasn't fared so well of late, with just a single win in its last six games. The Bulls losing ways have dropped them to an even 11-11 overall and to just 2-7 in American Athletic Conference play. They have managed to remain competitive on the road (4-3), but a home date against Rutgers is next on the schedule.
It has been more than a month since UCF tasted victory, with the Knights falling in six straight games since their 78-76 win over Temple on Jan. 4. UCF is now only 9-10, with a single win in eight tries in its new conference. Next up, the Knights will square off with Connecticut on Sunday.
UCF entered Conference USA the same year USF moved to the Big East, leaving the C-USA behind. So this is the first meeting between these foes as league rivals. The Bulls have won 20 of the first 25 matchups.
Last time out USF fought tooth and nail with seventh-ranked Cincinnati, but fell short in a 50-45 decision. The Bulls were limited to 38.8 percent shooting in the contest, including a paltry 1-of-11 showing from 3-point range. Chris Perry netted 13 points off the bench in the losing effort.
Poor showings on offense have been the norm for USF, which is last in the AAC in scoring (66.4 ppg) and second to last in field goal percentage (.434). The Bulls do a better job on defense, limiting teams to 69 ppg on 42.6 percent shooting. They showed off that ability against Cincinnati, which connected on just 33.3 percent from the floor against the Bulls. Victor Rudd (14.5 ppg, 6.6 rpg) and Corey Allen Jr (10.7 ppg) are the only consistent double figure scorers on the roster. Rudd totaled only 11 points on 4-of-11 shooting against Cincinnati, while Allen had six points on 2-of-8 from the field.
UCF was not as competitive in its most recent contest, falling in an 87-70 rout on the road to Louisville. The Knights managed just a 38.2 percent shooting effort, while having twice as many turnovers (16) as assists (eight). Tristan Spurlock scored 20 points off the bench as the team's top scorer.
The Knights are certainly a better offensive team than the Bulls, but still not one of the elite in the conference. They are netting 72.9 ppg on 43.6 percent shooting, which ranks them sixth and eighth in the league, respectively. Isaiah Sykes (15.2 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 3.5 apg) is one of the more versatile players in the AAC and he has done everything for the Knights, leading the team in scoring, rebounds and assists. However, Sykes managed only eight points on 2-of-12 shooting against Louisville. Calvin Newell Jr. (11.7 ppg) and Spurlock (11.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg) are the next best scoring threats.
Sykes is too good to have another miserable outing, even against a team as defensively proficient as USF. Expect him to get back to his normal production and lead the Knights to victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UCF 72, South Florida 68
02/05 10:35:04 ET