Bulls Look to Build off First Big EAST Win

Stan Heath and the Bulls got their first BIG EAST win of the season, rallying for a 79-72 victory over Providence Sunday. After knocking on victory's door for some time, losing 11 games, 10 of them by nine or fewer points, it was only a matter of time for the Bulls. Now they have a victory, they have a good shot at a winning streak with the next game against Rutgers

Someone had to win.

South Florida and Providence, two of the three winless teams in the Big East, got together on Jan. 16 and it was South Florida breaking through for a 79-72 victory.

In reality, it was only a matter of time for the Bulls. They had been knocking on victory's door for some time, losing 11 games, 10 of them by nine or fewer points.

They hung in and kept fighting and improving.

"I'm proud of our guys. We're playing hard, not burying our heads. We're playing against some really, really good basketball teams and we're doing some good things. We're continuing to get better," coach Stan Heath said after a hard-fought loss to Cincinnati.

"We're going to turn this corner. There is no doubt in my mind. We're going to turn the corner and we're going to win some games, and we're going to look back at these times as a trial, just a tough experience that we went through to get better."

Now they have a victory and figure to have a good shot at a winning streak as the next game is against Rutgers, who like South Florida has only one win, that against Providence.

The important thing is the players are improving. Forward Augustus Gilchrist seems on board after a mid-season suspension and forward Jarrid Famous and guard Hugh Robertson are becoming impressive Big East performers.

BEYOND THE BOX SCORE: One of the most overlooked players in the Big East is South Florida G Hugh Robertson. Due to his length and quickness, he is normally assigned to defend the opponent's best offensive player but he has also become a scorer. Robertson is second on the team in scoring in Big East games with 10 points a game and his 13 assists in conference play also rank second on the team, behind junior PG Anthony Carter, with 29. Against Providence he led the Bulls with 17 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

NOTES, QUOTES

--USF's F Jarrid Famous stepped up big time in the Providence victory, scoring 15 points and pulling down 14 rebounds for a double-double.

--USF is awaiting the completion of the Pam and Les Muma Basketball Center, a facility that will include both a men's and women's practice gymnasium along with support facilities including locker rooms and lounges, video/film rooms, meeting rooms, athletic training, strength training and equipment management facilities.

--USF might be losing regularly, but the Bulls are playing virtually everyone close. Of the first 12 losses, 11 have been by nine or fewer points.

BY THE NUMBERS: 9 -- According to CollegeRPI.com, South Flordia has the ninth-strongest schedule in the country, which could indicate the Bulls are closer to being a successful team than the won-lost record may suggest.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "This is a tough league. You've got to fight every time. We're trying to push harder and harder, but we've just got to get over that hump. Once we get over that hump we can get some momentum and try to go on a little streak. We've just got to get that first win." -- South Florida F Augustus Gilchrist before beating Providence for the season's first Big East victory.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

THIS WEEK'SGAMES:

--at Rutgers, Jan. 20

KEY MATCHUPS: This could be a breakthrough game for South Florida as Rutgers has both teams have one victory, each over winless Providence in Big East play. Certainly it will be a low scoring game as Rutgers is 15th and South Florida 16th in the Big East while both are decent defensive teams. Ron Anderson Jr. of South Florida could be a key figure in the game as the Bulls figure to control the backboards and he is one of the better rebounding forwards in the conference.

--at West Virginia, Jan 23

KEY MATCHUPS: South Florida is a better team than its record, the losses mounting mainly because the Bulls have not yet figured out how to close a game. They lost a double-overtime game to BYU, lost in overtime to Big East power Connecticut, lost by five to Kent State, seven to Cleveland State and recently dropped a tough decision to Cincinnati. The Bulls will try to turn C Augustus Gilchrist loose inside and he has really come on after sitting out a suspension, matching up with WVU's Deniz Kilicli in a physical battle. WVU's defense and home court advantage may tip the scales in the Mountaineers' favor.

FUTURE'S MARKET: The Bulls were not very prolific scoring through the early part of the schedule as they tried to establish themselves, sometimes without star F Augustus Gilchrist. As the season rolls on they may become more of a force thanks to the play of junior PG Anthony Crater. He seemed to find himself in league play and had back-to-back career highs in assists against Villanova (eight) and Louisville (10). He followed that up with six assists and only two turnovers against Providence. A game before that Crater broke out offensively as he hit four 3s against No. 4 Connecticut to finish with a career-high 14 points, indicating his all-around game may be ready to blossom.

PLAYER NOTES:

--Junior F-C Augustus Gilchrist barely got it but with 10 points against Providence on Jan. 16 he stretched his streak of double-figure scoring games to seven.

--Freshman G Jordan Heath, son of coach Stan Heath, and sophomore F Victor Rudd, a transfer from Arizona State, are sitting out redshirt seasons and will be available next year to the Bulls.


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