Defending 3-point arc is key against Pirates

USF returns home to face No. 24 Seton Hall, who comes in riding a three game winning streak.

No. 24 Seton Hall ranks second in 3-point shooting in the Big East. That is not good news for South Florida.

The Bulls host Seton Hall on Friday, and they don't figure to be able to win a battle of long-range shots against the Pirates. USF is 12th in the Big East in 3-point shooting, making just 33.2 percent.

USF's lack of a perimeter game was glaring Tuesday in a 60-49 loss at Notre Dame. The Bulls made just one of 13 shots from beyond the arc for a sickly 8 percent.

Ironically, the only USF player who made a 3-pointer was 6-foot-10 senior center Augustus Gilchrist, who is noted more for his physical play inside. He is averaging 5.9 points and 1.6 blocked shots a game.

Seton Hall is knocking down 36.8 percent of its 3-pointers, with sophomore guard Furquan Edwin shooting 45.6 percent. Edwin is third on the team in scoring with an average of 14.9 points a game behind senior forward Herb Pope (17.5) and senior guard Jordan Theodore (16.5).

Pope is averaging a double-double, as he also leads Seton Hall with 10.9 rebounds a game. Edwin is averaging 6.6 boards. Theodore tops the Big East in assists at 7.4 a game.

South Florida is just 1-8 against Seton Hall since joining the Big East prior to the 2005-06 season. This will be a quick rematch of the Dec. 28 conference opener for both teams, which Seton Hall won 64-55 at home.

Senior forward Jeff Robinson led five Seton Hall double-figure scorers in that game with 15 points. Pope had 12 points and 13 rebounds, Theodore added 11 points and five assists, and Edwin finished with 11 points and three steals.

South Florida was topped by junior guard Hugh Robertson's 14 points.

HOT SEAT: Sophomore forward Victor Rudd was expected to provide South Florida with scoring punch from the perimeter after transferring from Arizona State. Instead, he is shooting just 29.0 percent on 3-pointers and 34.5 percent overall while scoring 8.7 points a game. Rudd failed to score in 17 minutes in a 60-49 loss at Notre Dame on Tuesday, going 0-for-4 from the field and missing both 3-point attempts. His playing time will continue to dip until he finds his shooting touch.



Surprising Bulls using team effort

All of a sudden South Florida is a player in the Big East.

During the first week of January, the Bulls beat Rutgers at home, then won on the road at Villanova.

It was the Bulls' first road victory of the season and, more impressive, just their seventh road victory in seven seasons since becoming a member of the Big East.

What's more, they could not have found a tougher place for it, Villanova having lost only once before in the last 53 games at its on-campus home known as the Pavilion, with that previous loss coming at the hands of Pitt.

The Bulls are performing their turnaround in the most difficult way, for they have no star player pulling them along behind him. They had no one among the top 20 scorers in the conference, through Jan. 8, and no one among the assist leaders while big man Augustus Gilchrist ranked just 19th in rebounding with Toralyn Fitzpatrick 13th with 6.7 rebounds a game.

In truth, it is two players who have yet to receive a lot of publicity that have made a huge difference. One is senior Ron Anderson Jr., who has been tremendously efficient by hitting 60.5 percent of his field-goal tries to rank second in the Big East while pulling in 5.6 rebounds a game entering the week.

Anderson Jr., Gilchrist and Fitzpatrick give USF a powerful rebounding edge over many teams.

Then there is freshman guard Anthony Collins, who has given them an exciting point guard to run the show and add life to an offense that had been stagnant.

--South Florida made its first road win of the year and seventh in seven years count. The Bulls knocked off host Villanova, which had lost at its Pavilion only once in the past 53 games.

--Senior Ron Anderson Jr. has been stunning in his precision from the field, hitting 60.5 percent of his shots, through Jan. 8. That mark was good enough for second place in the Big East.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1 -- The number of road games South Florida won this season through Jan. 8, after the victory at Villanova.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We've been knocking on the door recently, and I think our team is growing in terms of being more tough, finishing games down the stretch and understanding their roles." -- Coach Stan Heath, quoted in the Tampa Tribune, after his team upset Villanova.




--vs. Seton Hall, Jan. 13

KEY MATCHUPS: Seton Hall is an improved team built around the inside strength of Herb Pope, a candidate for Player of the Year. The Pirates enter the new week having 11 of 12 games, the only loss being at No. 1 Syracuse, and have three nice victories in a row over West Virginia, Connecticut and on the road at Providence. Pope is averaging a double-double, ranking sixth in scoring in the Big East at 17.9 points a game, and second in rebounding at 10.7 a game.

The Pirates' driving force, however, may be G Jordan Theodore, who averages 15.6 points a game and has 118 assists to just 40 turnovers, leading the conference in assists and standing second in assist-to-turnover ratio.

FUTURES MARKET: The Bulls are encouraged by the play of Jawanza Poland, who missed the first 11 games of the season with a back injury. He was a big cog in the victory over Villanova and it is no accident the team won twice since his return.

"I feel real good out there playing running up and down the court," he told the Tampa Tribune. "I feel like I'm up 100 percent."

Coach Stan Heath has noticed Poland's play.

"Jawanza stepped up in big way and really carried that load," Heath said.

Poland led the Bulls against Villanova by scoring 20 points.



--Freshman G Anthony Collins started and played 28 minutes against Notre Dame, scoring six points and dishing out three assists. Collins left South Florida's previous game, a win at Villanova on Jan. 5, late in the first half after hitting his head on the floor. He did not return. However, he was cleared to play Tuesday after passing concussion tests.

--Senior F Augustus Gilchrist is South Florida's only player averaging in double figures, and he is not exactly lighting it up. However, his 13 points were good enough to be the team high against Notre Dame and actually raised his season average ever so slightly to 11.0 a game. The Bulls are last in the 16-team Big East in scoring at 61.4 points a game.

--Senior F Ron Anderson Jr. is in his last season and making the most of it by operating in the shadows, doing the tough work. When the Bulls defeated Rutgers, Anderson chipped in with 15 points, his most points since Nov. 30 against VCU, while adding six offensive rebounds and taking three charges. He had six points and 10 rebounds against Notre Dame.

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