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February 16, 2013

Preview: Seton Hall at USF

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Coming off a tough loss against St. John's this past week, The USF Bulls (16-7, 5-5) will finish out their two-game homestand tonight in search of a winning in-conference record and an 11th consecutive win over Seton Hall (8-16, 3-8).

The Bulls remain right in the middle of the Big East standings, tied with Rutgers at .500 and trailing three ranked squads {No. 3 UConn, No. 10 Louisville, No. 23 Syracuse) who USF will face before the season is through. The Pirates remain near the cellar of the conference, with their three wins keeping them barely ahead of Providence (2-9), Cincinnati (1-10), and Pittsburgh (0-10).

This is the second of two meetings between these teams this season. USF took the first match by the score of 74-52.

Three Keys to the Game

  1. Don't play down to the Pirates. When you've beaten a team 10 times in-a-row, it's easy to be overconfident in thinking that another win is inevitable. However, this Seton Hall squad put a blemish on Rutgers' record not too long ago and could do the same the Bulls tonight if they aren't careful.
  2. Watch those turnovers. The Bulls had 16 of them against St. John's, and they cannot expect to finish out the season strong if they continue to give the ball away so freely.
  3. Don't look ahead to No. 10 Louisville. Coach Fernandez has been preaching a "one game at-a-time" philosophy, and that needs to continue even against a struggling Seton Hall squad. Beating Louisville will matter a whole lot less if the Bulls can't get past the Pirates first.
The Matchup

It's hard to believe that this season's Seton Hall squad is an improvement over its predecessor, but that is most certainly the case. Last season the Pirates' women's team lost an astounding 16 games in-a-row, and would end the season with only one Big East win over Pittsburgh. Though the team has improved both its overall and in-conference record, they are still in the bottom 10 percent of country in scoring offense (317th with 52.6 point per game) and field-goal percentage (316th with 34.5 percent accuracy).

On paper, this should be a very easy win for USF. The Bulls have the defense to stop what little offense Seton Hall will produce (22nd in blocked shots per game with 5.1, 36th in rebound margin at 6.1), and have the offensive firepower to capitalize on the Pirates' inability to apply any real pressure. An interesting statistic to watch during this match will be the personal fouls, as both of these teams send their opponents to the line often; Seton Hall averages 17.5 personal fouls per game, while USF averages 17.8.

Players to Watch

Freshman forward Alisia Jenkins is certainly making her case to become a full-time starter for years to come on this Bulls team. Though Jenkins has only been a starter in 13 out of the 22 games she's played in this season, she is projected to be a starter in this matchup against Seton Hall; this distinction is well deserved after her performance against St. John's. She opened the game against the Red Storm by scoring the first seven points for the Bulls, and went on to score 17 points and get 10 rebounds en route to her third consecutive double-double. All eyes will continue to be on this rising star throughout the rest of the season.

Seton Hall's struggles have made it difficult for its players to receive the attention they deserve this season, but there are certainly ones to watch on this team. Junior guard Brittany Morris is relatively sharp from the three-point line, averaging 2.04 per game with 31.2 percent accuracy. Sophomore Ka-Deidre Simmons stands out on a team that struggles with ball handling and ball control with a 1.38 assist-to-turnover ratio.

The game can be heard on 1010 AM as well as BullsCast on GoUSFBulls.com



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