Villanova (10-4) at South Florida (9-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, January 9, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Sun Dome (9,662) -- Tampa, Florida. Television: Big East Network, BHSN, Local. Home Record: Villanova 6-2, USF 7-3. Away Record: Villanova 3-1, USF 2-1. Neutral Record: Villanova 1-1, USF 0-0. Conference Record: Villanova 1-0, USF 0-1. Series Record: Villanova leads, 5-4.
GAME NOTES: The Villanova Wildcats have made the trek to Tampa hoping to snap a four-game losing streak to the South Florida Bulls, as the two teams get set for a Big East conference showdown at the Sun Dome.
After grabbing their first Big East win of the season last Wednesday night in a 98-86 overtime victory at home versus St. John's, Villanova is riding a six- game winning streak. The Wildcats dominated the extra period, outscoring the Red Storm 15-3 in overtime. Freshman point guard Ryan Archidiacono led the charge with a career-high 32 points in the win, and his seven 3-pointers were just one shy of the all-time Villanova single-game record. His performance earned him Big East Rookie of the Week honors for the second-straight week. Coming off the bench, JayVaughn Pinkston added 26 points in the win, which was the most he has tallied this season.
Pinkston and Archidiacono are the leading scorers for the Wildcats, averaging 13.2 and 13 ppg, respectively. James Bell's 10.3 and Darrun Hilliard's 10 ppg help balance out the Wildcats' scoring attack. Villanova comes into this contest averaging 72.5 ppg and giving up 67.6 ppg. The Wildcats have attempted 404 free throws thus far (28.9 per contest) and converted 292 (.723). In contrast, VU's opponents have attempted 316 free throws. An area 'Nova seeks to improve is its 3-point defense, particularly after St. John's drained 10- of-20 from long-distance (.500) and overall the Wildcats' opponents are 117- of-319 (.367) through 14 games, which ranks the team last in the Big East.
Although the Wildcats lead the all-time series by 5-4 margin, it has been a streaky rivalry. After joining the Big East, the Bulls struggled against 'Nova, dropping the first five contests. Since then, however, the pendulum has swung back to the Sunshine State, with USF running off four straight against Villanova. Last season was a particularly one-sided affair, as the Bulls won all three matchups, taking both regular season contests and then besting the Wildcats in the second round of the 2012 Big East Tournament, 56-47.
Despite holding No. 7 Syracuse to just 36 percent shooting from the field and a season-low in points scored, a 43-36 rebounding advantage for the Orange was too much to overcome as the Bulls fell at home in their Big East opener, 55-44. Victor Rudd posted a double-double for USF consisting of 15 points and 11 rebounds. Syracuse had a 23-6 rebounding edge at the offensive end, allowing the visitors far too many second chances.
The USF defense has continued to be a strong point this season as nine of the Bulls' 13 opponents have been held under 60 points, and an additional two only reaching 61 in regulation. Dating back to last season, USF has now held 21 of its last 26 opponents to 60 points or less. Additionally, 37 out of the Bulls' last 49 opponents have not been able to post more than 60 points. USF has gone 25-10 in those games. Only one opponent has scored more than 63 points in regulation this season -- Bowling Green put up 84 in triple-overtime, but only reached 61 in regulation. The Bulls have had a variety of options when it comes to point production this year, as they have three players averaging double figures in the form of Victor Rudd (11.5 ppg), Toarlyn Fitzpatrick (11.4 ppg) and Jawanza Poland (11.2 ppg). USF has had six different leading scorers in 13 games.
The Bulls play tenacious defense and that could spell trouble for the inconsistent Villanova offense, but expect the WIldcats to continue using their size and rebounding edge to get extra looks and snap their recent string of defeats to the Bulls.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Villanova 65, South Florida 60
01/09 10:37:19 ET