TAMPA--Losers of 11 of their last 12, the USF Bulls return to the Sun Dome on Sunday afternoon to face the Louisville Cardinals in yet another Big East contest. Tipoff is slated for 1:00 PM in Tampa.
The Bulls (10-14, 1-11) are coming off a gut-wrenching 76-66 loss to Providence this past Wednesday. This loss was the seventh Big East game decided by 10 points or less that the Bulls played in. USF looks to avoid its seventh conference loss at home this season against Louisville.
Louisville (20-5, 8-4) finds themselves fourth in the Big East standings. The Cardinals have won four of their past five games, with their only loss coming in the 5-OT thriller against Notre Dame on February 9th.
This is the second meeting between the two teams this season. Louisville won the first meeting of the year in convincing fashion 64-38 at the KFC Yum Center on January 12th.
The Bulls have had issues scoring, but it seems that the defense has been failing them more recently. USF allowed 51 points in the second half to Providence, after holding them to just 25 in the first frame. They jumped out to an eleven-point lead, but couldn't hang onto it. USF is still near the bottom of points scored in the nation, however. The Bulls are ranked 323rd in points per game with a 60 point average.
USF had their largest rebounding margin against Providence in their last game, bringing down 34 boards compared to the Friars 28. The Bulls also brought down more offensive rebounds. It was Victor Rudd's first game back after missing the Villanova game with a groin injury. Rudd made his presence felt dropping a double-double with 26 points and 12 rebounds. He'll need to recreate that and then some if USF wants to win against Louisville.
Louisville is led by three players who average double figures in points per game. Russ Smith averages 18.6 points a game on 40 percent shooting and is the leading scorer for the Cardinals. Chase Besnahan and Peyton Siva each average 11.2 PPG and 10.3 PPG respectively. Besnahan excels in the post as well, averaging 7.5 rebounds per game.
For the Bulls to pull off the upset, they're going to need a complete effort for 40 minutes. There isn't room for a stretch of six or seven minutes without of field goal like they've had in previous games. Louisville is too good of a team defensively to be able to overcome a stretch like that. It seems as if when the upperclassmen aren't performing, the underclassmen step up in their place and vice versa. Everyone needs to play well in order for the Bulls to win.
Josh Appel is the Senior Writer for RunningtheBulls.com. He is a student broadcaster at the University of South Florida. You can contact him at Josh@RunningtheBulls.com. Follow Josh on Twitter at @JoshAppel.