Marquette Golden Eagles (15-8, 6-5 Big East) vs. South Florida Bulls (15-8, 5-6 Big East)
Bradley Center– Milwaukee, WI
Time: Saturday, 7:30 pm CST
Coverage: ESPN360/Big East Network/TWC Sports 32 (Jim Barbar play-by-play, Dave Kaplan color-analyst)
Two of the hottest teams in the Big East meet up on Saturday night when Marquette hosts South Florida at the Bradley Center.
Marquette enters the game on a four game winning streak in which they have taken down Rutgers, Connecticut, DePaul and Providence. Meanwhile, South Florida has won 5-of-their-last-7, including wins over Georgetown and Pittsburgh.
As if the game didn't have enough importance already, South Florida junior guard Dominique Jones added to the intrigue by guaranteeing a South Florida victory on his Facebook status.
"If I had time to worry about it I'd be okay with it," Marquette coach Buzz Williams said Thursday. "I'm just thankful to coach this team. He's good enough to say what he wants to say but as it relates to our team, we just need to have a good practice today."
Instead, Williams has been focusing on getting his Golden Eagles prepared for the deep and talented roster that South Florida brings to the table. Their three-headed attack of Jones, Jarrid Famous and Augustus Gilchrist is a scary combination for any team to face.
"I think they're really good," Williams said. "I think they have three [potential] NBA players on their team. One will be back for the first time in a while on Saturday, the second one is the leading scorer in the country since Christmas Day and the other one is just really, really solid."
Jones has been lights out, averaging a league-high 25.5 points-per-game during league play. The 6-foot-4 junior guard has scored at least 25 points in seven of the Bulls 11 Big East games. Jones can score from anywhere on the floor but he really makes his mark at the free throw line. In league play he averages just over 10 attempts-per-game.
While Jones gets most the notoriety in the Bull's backcourt, teammates Chris Howard, Mike Mercer and Anthony Crater help make South Florida's backcourt so dangerous.
Howard has stepped up his scoring in the past few weeks during the Bull's hot streak. He averages 10 points per game and can also handle point guard duties. Mercer has been up and down this season but has the ability to drop double digits on any opponent. Crater, an Ohio State transfer, became eligible in January and has helped relieve Howard of his point guard duties.
Although it may not have as much depth as the backcourt, the Bull's frontcourt is extremely talented. Sophomore center Augustus Gilchrist will make his Big East debut Saturday after missing the past 15 games due to injury. Prior to the injury, Gilchrist was averaging 18.8 points- and 7.4-rebounds-per game. He has the size of a true center and the skills of a combo forward.
Joining Gilchrist in the frontcourt are newcomer's Jarrid Famous and Toarlyn Fitzpatrick. Famous, a junior-college transfer, has made an immediate impact for the Bulls in his first season. The 6-foot-11 forward/center has poured in 11.6 points-per-game and grabbed 7.7 rebounds-per-game. Fitzpatrick, a 6-foot-8 freshman has proven to be a solid presence inside, especially in Gilchrist's absence.
The trio of Gilchrist, Famous, and Fitzpatrick all bring size and athleticism to the table. It will be difficult for Marquette's undersized front line to matchup with these three guys and it will be interesting to see which team can win these matchups.
Both these teams sit on the proverbial NCAA tournament "bubble" and are looking for wins to boost their resume. Saturday night provides an opportunity for both teams to do just that.
G –#10–Anthony Crater (6'1" 170 lbs, Sophomore) --- (3.4 ppg, 1.7 apg, 1.4 spg)
G –#3–Chris Howard (6'3" 200 lbs, Senior) --- (10.3 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 3.6 apg)
G –#20–Dominique Jones (6'4" 205 lbs, Junior) --- (21.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 4.4 apg, 36% 3pt)
F –#32–Toarlyn Fitzpatrick (6'8" 230 lbs, Freshman) --- (5.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.0 bpg)
F/C –#31–Jarrid Famous (6'11" 240 lbs, Junior) --- (11.6 ppg, 7.7 ppg, 53% FG)
F/C –#31– Augustus Gilchrist (6'10" 235 lbs, Sophomore) --- (18.8 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 1.4 bpg, 73% 3PT, in 9 games)
G –#33– Mike Mercer (6'4" 190 lbs, Senior) --- (8.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 1.5 spg)
G –#5– Justin Leemow (6'1" 175 lbs, Sophomore) --- (2.4 ppg, 1.3 apg)
Preview: South Florida
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