GAME NOTES: The South Florida Bulls have made the trek north to take on the Villanova Wildcats in Big East Conference action at The Pavilion.
Having suffered a 70-47 blowout loss at home to Marquette on Wednesday night, the Bulls have now lost five straight games, all in conference play. They are 1-9 in their last 10, with their lone win in that span coming at home over Georgetown on Jan. 19.
Villanova bounced back from a two-game skid to post a convincing win at DePaul on Tuesday. That win evened the Wildcats' conference record at 5-5.
The Wildcats lead the all-time series with the Bulls, 6-4. Villanova took the last contest, a 61-53 decision in Tampa back on Jan. 9. That victory snapped a four-game USF win streak in the series.
The 24th-ranked Marquette Golden Eagles tamed the Bulls on Wednesday night. Zach LeDay scored 14 points for the Bulls, while Victor Rudd chipped in with eight points. The game was decided in the first half. The Golden Eagles jumped out to a 13-3 lead and ended the half on a 22-6 run to make it a 39-16 game at the break. The Bulls shot just 27.8 percent and had 14 turnovers in the opening period.
South Florida has a lot of trouble putting points on the board, sitting at the bottom of the Big East in scoring (60.6 ppg), field goal percentage (.413) and scoring margin (-1.2). Its defensive effort yields a 41.1 percent shooting performance overall, and a 29.7 percent allowance on 3-point tries, good for fourth-best in the league. The team has three scorers averaging at or near double-digits, including Victor Rudd (10.7 ppg), Toarlyn Fitzpatrick (10.5 ppg) and Jawanza Poland (9.7 ppg). The Bulls are routinely beaten on the boards (-4.2 rebounding margin).
After going into halftime tied, 40-40, Villanova delivered its highest second- half point total of the season (54) on Tuesday and pulled away from DePaul for a 94-71 victory in Rosemont, Illinois. The Wildcats' 18 assists tied a season- high and they connected on a season-best 59.6 percent of their field goal attempts. Villanova sank 10-of-18 3-point attempts in the win and is now 11-0 this season when it makes six or more treys in a game. Freshman Ryan Arcidiacono led six Wildcats in double figures with 23 points, joining Darrun Hilliard (17), James Bell (16), Mouphtaou Yarou (11), JayVaughan Pinkston (11) and Tony Chennault (10).
Villanova is ranked in the middle of the conference in points per game (69.6), but second-to-last in field goal percentage (.413). At the defensive end, the Wildcats allow 66.1 points per game while keeping teams to less than 40 percent shooting, although they are allowing a league-worst 36.3 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Pinkston (12.7 ppg) is the leading scorer on a team that boasts three double-figure scorers, the others being Hilliard (11.4 ppg) and Arcidiacono (11.6 ppg), who could both be even more effective if not for shooting percentages that sit below 40 percent. Yarou is pulling down a team-best 6.7 rpg, which puts him in the top-10 in the conference.
The Wildcats have been a streaky team this season and they haven't been as potent on their home court as they have in years past. But they still play hard and have more weapons on offense than do the Bulls.
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