The Orange looks to continue its torrid start to the season and will have some extra motivation for this game. USF dealt SU an 89-78 loss last year which likely kept the ‘Cuse out of the Big Dance. This matchup has the potential to get ugly if SU can establish the low post with Rick Jackson and Arinze Onuaku. USF is rather soft on the interior, after losing Kentrell Gransberry to graduation, and will likely have a hard time competing with SU's athleticism and speed. The Orange has one opponent in common with USF: the Virginia Cavaliers. The ‘Cuse staged a comeback to top UVa 73-70, while South Florida fell to the Cavs by a 77-75 score on the road.
The Bulls are led by Dominique Jones, who averages over 17 points, four rebounds and four assists per contest. He dropped a career-high 36 in the Bulls' most recent game, a 68-55 win over Iona. Expect him and marksman Jesus Verdejo to be the majority of the USF offense. Verdejo is hitting on over 42 percent of his three point attempts so far this season. Syracuse's zone defense could give him some open opportunities.
The Orange will look to force this young Bulls squad into turnovers. USF averages thirteen a game and would love to manage to slow this game down into one of the halfcourt variety. SU, which averages over 82 points per game, will be pushing the ball all night and should be able to have their way with the Bulls.
Six Keys/Things To Watch For
-Can Andy Rautins continue his hot shooting? Rautins has knocked down a whopping sixteen treys in his last two games, both in the Dome. Will the hot shooting continue when SU takes it show on the road?
-SU has been shooting the ball incredibly well this season, including a 56 percent effort in their game against Seton Hall. If the Orange can shoot either above fifty perecent from the field or stay in single digits in turnovers, this one should go down as the team's fourteenth victory of the season.
-Keep an eye on the Eric Devendorf story. He looked impressive in his first game back, though he came off the bench. Will Andy's hot streak give him a fourth straight start tonight? No matter which one starts, the two should be able to coexist very well and are gelling to form one of the nation's most competent duos of long-range shooters.
-Paul Harris suffered an injury (cut to his index finger) in the last game that limited his playing time. Expect him to get back to his double-double ways if he can stay healthy tonight.
-Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner! Err, not the type of ‘winner' you want to be. At just less than 58 percent, South Florida is one of the few teams that can say they shoot free throws at a worse clip than SU.
-SU should be able to outrebound this team, given its size advantage and superior talent and athleticism. While this is a game that the ‘Cuse should coast in, if all goes as expected, it will be interesting to see how SU starts off. For all of the good things the team did in their romp over Seton Hall on Tuesday, they still trailed 20-19 early in the game. Getting off to better starts will be pivotal for SU as Big East play kicks into gear.
Prediction: #11 Syracuse 89, South Florida 70