Loyola-Chicago (2-1) at South Florida (1-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 17, 7:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Sun Dome (10,411) -- Tampa, Florida. Television: None. Home Record: Loyola-Chicago 2-0, USF 1-1. Away Record: Loyola-Chicago 0-0, USF 0-0. Neutral Record: Loyola-Chicago 0-1, USF 0-0. Conference Record: Loyola- Chicago 0-0, USF 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Loyola-Chicago Ramblers get their shot at the host South Florida Bulls on Saturday as part of the South Florida Invitational at the USF Sun Dome.
In the first of three games in as many days, Loyola-Chicago came up short in an 81-71 loss to Western Michigan on Friday night. The loss puts the Ramblers at 2-1 this season with home wins against Toledo (62-50) and Rockhurst (64-41) also on the ledger. Next up for the Ramblers is a matchup with MD-Eastern Shore in the final day of the event.
South Florida got back on track with a 78-56 win over MD-Eastern Shore in the first game of the three-day event. The Bulls, who earned their first NCAA berth since 1992 last season, were unable to keep up with instate foe UCF in a 74-56 loss in the season opener last Saturday. In the third and final game of the tournament the Bulls will face Western Michigan.
This will be the first meeting between these programs.
Loyola-Chicago went toe to toe with Western Michigan in the first half against Western Michigan and trailed by just a point at halftime (38-37). The Ramblers were a scorching 7-of-12 from 3-point range in the half. After the break Ramblers offense slowed to 42.3 percent shooting and was unable to keep up. Ben Averkamp led the way with 24 points while Matt O'Leary's 14 points helped the Ramblers earn a 24-7 edge in points off the bench.
Averkamp has been the player to watch for Loyola-Chicago this season. The senior forward is leading the squad in both scoring (18.3 ppg) and rebounding (7.0 pg). O'Leary has been a solid scorer off the bench early only and is the only other player on the squad to be averaging in double digits at an even 10.0 points per game. The freshman forward has not been afraid to shoot from deep, but until a 4-of-8 effort from 3-point range against Western Michigan had yet to find his stroke. Another freshman, Jeff White, has enjoyed some limited success (6.0 ppg) while playing a significant role in the rotation (21.3 mpg). Starting point guard Payne Cully has been able to set his teammates up well (5.0 apg) but has been unable to get in a rhythm himself netting just 2-of-13 shots this season.
South Florida got back to the defensive-minded attack that made it successful last season in the win over the Hawks. The Bulls blanketed MD-Eastern Shore on defense and held the Hawks to just 32.7 percent shooting including a meager 6- of-23 effort in the first half. Toarlyn Fitzpatrick was the lead scorer in the contest with 16 points to go along with six rebounds.
In terms of scorers, Jawanza Poland has been the most prolific for South Florida on the young season. The senior guard (15.5 ppg) scored 22 points in the opener he has been up and down in terms of shooting following up his 8- of-11 effort in the first game with just a 3-of-10 outing against MD-Eastern Shore. Fitzpatrick (11.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg) is also scoring in double figures on the season while also leading the team on the boards. Teaming with Poland in the backcourt is Anthony Collins who can score (9.0 ppg) and pass (6.5 apg) while providing stingy defense on the other end of the court. The 6-foot-1 guard is collecting 2.5 steals per game and has even has a blocked a shot. Off the bench Shaun Noriega has provided a nice spark with his ability to shoot from 3-point range (3-of-7) while scoring 5.5 points per game.
Getting back to its defensive success of last season is a good sign for the Bulls. South Florida should be able to continue the return to defensive dominance in this contest.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: South Florida 65, Loyola-Chicago 56
11/17 10:36:33 ET