(24) Marquette (15-5) at South Florida (10-11) (ET)
GAME NOTES: Going for the season sweep of the South Florida Bulls, the 24th- ranked Marquette Golden Eagles have flown to the Sunshine State for a Big East Conference clash.
These two teams met just nine days ago in Milwaukee, with Marquette posting a 63-50 win to improve its lead in the all-time series to a commanding 18-3. The Golden Eagles have won 11 of the last 12 meetings. USF's last win over MU was a 57-56 decision at home on Feb. 6, 2009.
Marquette comes into this evening's bout sporting a 15-5 overall record, and the team has won six of its eight conference games. Unfortunately, the Golden Eagles are fresh off a 70-51 waxing at the hands of former No. 1 Louisville, dropping their record in true road games to a disappointing 1-4.
South Florida's luck hasn't been nearly as favorable as its counterpart, the team currently mired in a three-game losing streak and having suffered setbacks in eight of its first nine Big East battles. The Bulls are three games over .500 at home (8-5), but three of their last four in Tampa have resulted in defeat. USF's most recent outing took place this past Sunday at Connecticut, a game in which the Huskies rallied to prevail in overtime, 69-64.
Marquette is solid at both ends of the court, the team generating 69.2 ppg while giving up 62.7 ppg. The Golden Eagles also own positive, albeit marginal differentials in both rebounding (+3.8) and turnovers (+0.4). About the only glaring negative for MU is the fact that it is shooting just 29.2 percent from 3-point range. Vander Blue (14.9 ppg) is one of two double-digit scorers on the roster, and he is the only starter as Davante Gardner (12.2 ppg, 5.4 rpg) has come off the bench in all 20 games. Three others average between 7.8 and 8.6 ppg. Blue hit for 30 points and Lockett chipped in 10 in last week's win over USF, and the former followed that up with a 17-point performance in the recent loss to Louisville, while the latter scored a season-best 16 points in defeat. MU held USF to just 27.3 percent field goal efficiency two games ago, but allowed the Cardinals to drain 51.9 percent of their total shots. Furthermore, the Golden Eagles shot just 35.8 percent from the floor against UofL, committed 17 turnovers and lost the battle on the boards, 38-26.
With a record hovering around the .500 mark, it's not surprising to see South Florida scoring nearly the same number of points as it allows (61.3-61.5 ppg). The Bulls are knocking down just 40.2 percent of their field goal attempts, which includes a 32.5 percent showing from beyond the arc, and their defensive effort yields a 41.1 percent shooting performance overall, and a 29.7 percent allowance on 3-point tries. The team boasts three double-digit scorers, but all net between 10.0 (Jawanza Poland) and 10.9 ppg (Victor Rudd). The Bulls are routinely beaten on the boards (-4.5 rebounding margin), but they are +1.6 in turnover differential, coughing the ball up only 10.6 times per outing. Toarlyn Fitzpatrick was high man for USF in the overtime loss at UConn, nailing five 3-pointers on his way to 22 points, Rudd tacked on 10 points and Anthony Collins chipped in with 10. As a team, the Bulls shot just 34.9 percent from the field, but they held the Huskies to a mere 29.8 percent, which included an 18.5 percent (5-of-27) effort in a first half that saw the home team score a scant 15 points. Unfortunately, South Florida could only muster 27 in the frame, thus allowing the Huskies to stay within striking distance.
Even though the Golden Eagles have not had much success on the road this season, they are much better than the Bulls and you can fully expect them to bounce back from the debacle at Louisville by winning in Tampa tonight.