G 20 Dominique Jones (Jr. 6-4) 21.3 ppg, 6.2 rpg
G 33 Mike Mercer (Sr. 6-5) 9.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg
G 03 Chris Howard (Jr. 6-3) 10.4 ppg, 3.8 rpg
F 24 Augustus Gilchrist (So. 6-10) 13.8 ppg, 6.1 rpg
C 31 Jarrid Famous (Jr. 6-11) 10.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg
Dominique Jones - One of the most explosive guards in the country, Jones is averaging 21.3 points and 6.2 rebounds this season. He had a career-high 46 points against Providence in a game earlier this year, but has also posted a 10-assist outing and snatched double-digit rebounds in a game. A versatile and natural playmaker, NC State MUST control Jones if they are going to have a shot in this game.
South Floirda Game Notes
PLAYER TO WATCH
USF is led by an explosive junior guard named Dominique Jones, who is the only player in the country averaging at least 21.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. At Providence, he had 46 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists. He is on the midseason Naismith Trophy finalist list, as well as the Wooden Award finalist list, was a first team All-BIG EAST player and won the BIG EAST scoring title.
USF IN THE NIT
- USF is making its eighth NIT appearance and looks to improve on its 4-7 record in the postseason tournament. USF is 4-2 in the Sun Dome in the NIT.
- USF's first NIT appearance was in 1981, led by Coach Lee Rose. The Bulls were 18-11 overall and 7-5 in the Sun Belt that season.
- The Bulls' best NIT was a 2-1 record in 1995, with victories over St. John's and Coppin State before falling at Marquette in overtime.
- The Bulls' last appearance was eight years ago, when USF played Ball State in Muncie, Ind.
Despite 30 points and six rebounds from guard Altron Jackson, now a manager with the team, USF came up short, 98-92. USF led 47-39 at the half, and by as many as 30 points in the game.
- In USF's 2000 NIT appearance, B.B. Waldon posted a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds in USF's 64-58 loss to New Mexico.
JONES SETS NATIONAL STAT MARKS
Dominique Jones is the only player in the country averaging at least 21.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game.
TOPS IN THE COUNTRY IN RECORD TURNAROUND
As of March 15, USF has made the second-biggest turnaround of all of the six major conferences, in terms of comparing last season's wins to this year. The Bulls were 9-22 last year and 4-14 in the league and are 20-12 overall and were 9-9 in the BIG EAST this season, for an 11-game turnaround. Kentucky leads the category with 12 more wins than they finished with last year.
Of the 320 college basketball teams in the NCAA, six teams have made bigger improvements than USF, including Coastal Carolina (+17), Loyola Marymount (+15), William&Mary (+12), Detroit (+13), Murray State (+11) and Lafayette (+11).
USF'S EIGHTH NIT APPEARANCE
USF is making its eighth NIT appearance and looks to improve on its 4-7 record in the postseason tournament.
BULLS MATCH SECOND-BEST SCHOOL RECORD
With their 20-12 overall record, the Bulls have matched the school's second-best record set in 1989-90, when USF won 20 games and played in the NCAA. USF has collected 20 wins or more only three times in 39 seasons of men's basketball.
MERCER'S POINTS ADDING UP
Senior guard Mike Mercer has scored in double digits in six of his last eight games to up his season average to 9.4 ppg. He had 18 vs. Providence, 17 against St. John's, 14 against DePaul, 11 at Villanova and 12 vs. Cincinnati and Connecticut.
JONES IN TOP 15 IN THE NATION IN SCORING
Junior guard Dominique Jones is tied for 15th in the country with his 21.3 points per game according to NCAA stats through March 14.
JONES LIGHTS UP PROVIDENCE WITH 46 POINTS
Dominique Jones scored 46 points at Providence (Jan. 23) to set the USF single game scoring record, passing Charlie Bradley's 42 against Florida State on Dec. 10, 1982, and was two points short of tying the BIG EAST single-game record.
The BIG EAST record is held by Eric Murdock of Providence, who scored 48 points against Pitt exactly 19 year ago on Jan. 23, 1991. Jones was an amazing 9-10 from the field in the second half against Providence.
HOWARD MAKING MOST
Senior guard Chris Howard is making the most of his final season with the Bulls, putting up offensive numbers like never before.
Howard is averaging 10.6 points per game, up from last season's 7.7 ppg.
FOUR PLAYERS IN DOUBLE DIGITS
USF has four players scoring double digits, including Dominique Jones (21.3), Augustus Gilchrist (14.9), Jarrid Famous (10.7) and Chris Howard (10.6).
The last time USF had four Bulls in double-figure scoring was in 1994-95. Those four scorers were Chucky Atkins (16.8), Jerome Robinson (14.5), Jesse Salters (14.3) and Donzel Rush (10.2).
GILCHRIST HOT FROM LONG RANGE
In 17 games played, Gilchrist is 13-of-26 from long range this season for a 50 percent clip. He was 8-of-11 (73%) in his first eight games and is 5-of-15 (33%) since returning to the team on Feb. 13 against Marquette.
The talented sophomore missed 15 games with an ankle injury (mid-December through mid-February), and USF was 8-7 with him on the sidelines. They were 12-5 with him on the floor.
Prior to the injury he led the team in scoring, averaging 18.8 points per game. Since he's returned he's been averaging just 9.3 points per game.