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January 12, 2013

USF cannot afford to fall to 0-3 in the Big East

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On Saturday, the USF Bulls continue Big East conference play as they pay a visit to the third-ranked Louisville Cardinals at 4PM from the KFC Yum! Center.

The Bulls come into the game with a record of 9-5 and are 0-2 in Big East play. USF has lost its last two games; 55-44 to Syracuse and most recently 61-53 to Villanova on Wednesday.

On the other side, the Cardinals are an impressive 14-1 and 2-0 in Big East competition. Their only loss came against Duke earlier in the season.

What to watch for

Much like the game against Syracuse last Sunday, today's game features another matchup of two great point guards.

For USF, it's the offensive catalyst Anthony Collins. Collins, who received high praise from Villanova head coach Jay Wright, is averaging an impressive 7.5 assists per game which is in the top 10 in the nation.

He'll be countered on the other side by senior Peyton Siva, who averages just over six assists a game. He leads a potent Louisville offense that averages 78 points per game.

Martino Brock will have his hands full guarding the 6-foot shooting guard for the Cardinals, Russ Smith. Smith averages 19.4 points per game, which is good for 3rd in the Big East.

The Bulls have done well as a group holding their conference opponents under their season scoring average, as they held Syracuse to just 55 points and Villanova to just 61. For USF to have success in this game, once again they'll have to keep Louisville in the 50's and 60's.

Crash the boards

USF's Achilles heel all season long has been rebounding. They were outrebounded 43-26 vs the Orange and 42-32 against the Wildcats. It is imperative for the Bulls to keep the rebounding battle close. It will be a tough task however, as Gorgui Dieng and Chane Behanan average over seven rebounds a game.

Though it will probably be in a limited role, Kore White is expected to get some playing time in the post. He has been battling a turf toe injury.

Score and score some more

Victor Rudd has jumped ahead of Toarlyn Fitzpatrick as the team's leading scorer, though not by much. Rudd is averaging 11.6 PPG and Fitzpatrick isn't far behind with 11.3 PPG. USF is going to need a group effort all around to beat a quality team like the Louisville Cardinals.

The Bulls are trying to avoid a 0-3 start in the Big East. USF has proven they can beat Louisville on the road, as they went into the KFC Yum! Center last season and pulled out a victory. However, this Cardinals squad is a much improved and more experienced team than last seasons'. USF has a tough schedule ahead of them, so a win today would be a huge confidence booster moving forward.



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