NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 08: Ron Anderson Jr. #1 of the South Florida Bulls celebrates after defeating the Villanova Wildcats during the first round of the 2011 Big East Men's Basketball Tournament presented by American Eagle Outfitters at Madison Square Garden on March 8, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
The USF men's basketball team visits Richmond to take on the Virginia Commonwealth Rams.
Tonight in Richmond, the South Florida Bulls visit the Virginia Commonwealth Rams for a non-conference matchup. Tip-off from the Verizon Wireless Arena in Richmond is at 7:30, with streaming coverage on ESPN 3.
The Bulls stand at 5-2 on the season after a 68-55 win over the Florida Atlantic Owls last Saturday. USF dominated the glass with a 42-29 rebounding edge, and both Ron Anderson Jr. (14 points, 12 rebounds) and Toarlyn Fitzpatrick (17 points, 14 rebounds) recorded double-doubles. Fitzpatrick's numbers were both career highs, and he also added three 3-pointers. USF shot 52% in the first half and led by as many as 22 points before holding off various challenges by FAU.
After appearing in two games as a substitute and directing the offense well, freshman point guard Anthony Collins will get his first career start tonight for the Bulls. Despite his limited playing time, Collins is second on the team with 13 assists and has committed only three turnovers.
The Rams were the true Cinderella story of the 2011 NCAA Tournament. After getting one of the "First Four" at-large bids that were included for the first time in last year's bracket, VCU beat Southern California, Georgetown, Purdue, Florida State, and then top-seeded Kansas to reach the program's first-ever Final Four. But this isn't the same Rams team that made that long postseason run before falling to Butler in the national semifinals. Four of last year's top five scorers are gone -- only swingman Bradford Burgess remains -- and coach Shaka Smart's team may end up taking a step back this year to retool. However, in their last game against the 13th-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide, the Rams hung tough and led well into the second half before the Crimson Tide pulled away late for a 72-64 victory in Tuscaloosa. Even when VCU isn't scoring, their tight, pressuring defense can keep them in nearly any game.
Last year, when the two teams met in the Sun Dome, USF won 60-59 in overtime after the Rams rallied from a 17-point first-half deficit. Neither team shot well in their last matchup, and there might be more of the same tonight.