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Everything came apart in the second half for the South Florida Bulls in their second-round Big East Tournament game. After hanging around for the first 20 minutes, USF couldn’t make things happen on either end of the court after halftime and fell to the Cincinnati Bearcats 87-61.
With Anthony Crater unable to play, the Bulls’ offense stalled out completely. Coach Stan Heath tried three different players at point guard (Mike Burwell, LaVonte Dority, and Shedrick Haynes) without much success. On the other end of the court, Cincinnati figured out the 2-3 zone USF had used earlier in the game to slow the Bearcats down. Once that happened, the Bulls were forced back into a man-to-man defense that clearly favored the Bearcats’ talented and athletic frontcourt.
Yancy Gates led the Bearcats with 25 points on 10-for-11 shooting, and Dion Dixon added 21. Cincinnati shot 71% from the field and took 24 free throws in the second half as they pulled away. Things got so bad that Heath took a rare (for him) technical foul arguing a no-call that went against USF in the second half.
USF’s disappointing season ends at 10-23 with this loss, while the Bearcats advance to play the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in tomorrow’s quarterfinals.
After another slow start, the South Florida Bulls did what they do best against the top teams in the Big East — hang around. Even though USF shot just 30.4% (7-for-23) from the field in the first half, the Bulls made up ground at the free throw line and only trail the Cincinnati Bearcats 32-24.
The biggest issue for USF, though, may be the status of Anthony Crater. He appeared to injure his arm going for a loose ball late in the first half, and was in enough pain on the Bulls’ last possession of the first half that he couldn’t run a play and was hunched over near the midcourt line, wincing and holding his arm. Crater has been inconsistent at point guard this season (to say the least), but it’s hard to see how USF could manage without him if he’s unable to continue.
The start of tonight’s second-round Big East Tournament game between the South Florida Bulls and Cincinnati Bearcats was just like the start of last night’s game between USF and the Villanova Wildcats. Except the total opposite of that. Last night the Bulls jumped out to an 8-0 lead; tonight it was Cincinnati that scored the first eight points of the game.
We’re at the first media timeout, a little more than five minutes into the game, and Cincinnati leads 12-5. Yancy Gates has eight points already for the Bearcats, and their fierce defense (fourth in the NCAA in points allowed per game) is already giving USF fits.
The South Florida Bulls (USF) face off against the Cincinnati Bearcats tonight at 7 PM in the second round of the Big East Tournament. The Bearcats will likely be stiff competition for the Bulls, as last night’s victory was only the 10th for USF all season long.
If USF wins on the offensive glass their probability of winning this game will be much, much higher. The problem is that UC is a great defensive rebounding team and though the Bulls are good in this respect. In fact you guys out rebounded UC in the last game 30 to 24. So they have to do that, Caesar Augustus Gilchrist obviously needs to have a big game. But the basic fact of the matter is that UC is just a better team than the Bulls, and by quite a large margin. When that is the case the three point shot is the great equalizer. Last night USF shot way above their heads. I don’t watch a ton of USF game but I am guessing the near 40 per cent shooting from down town is an outlier, one that needs to be repeated for USF to have a chance. If this team regresses to the mean shooting the three the odds go way down.
Also, one big players for the Bearcats tonight will likely be Yancy Gates:
Like most card carrying members of Bearcat Nation I was ready to write of the mercurial big man after his petulant run of form against Pitt, DePaul and Saint Johns. But the benching really seemed to light a fire under his ass. He has always had this kind of potential. And when he wants to play hard he is an absolute force inside in a league that is by and large bereft of quality interior big men. He absolutely dominated Xavier in the Crosstown Blowout earlier this year with 22 and 16, but there were games earlier in Big East play where he completely disappeared.
This should be a fun game, as USF hopes to build off their momentum from yesterday and to beat the Bearcats tonight. It will be a difficult challenge for the Bulls, but not impossible.
The first day in the Big East Tournament is in the books, and already we’ve seen a couple upsets and exciting games. The big story of the day was the USF-Villanova upset, but there was plenty more action in the tournament as well. The day started off with No. 9 UConn defending their higher ranking against No. 16 DePaul, beating them handily 97-71.
In The Battle of New Jersey, No. 13 Rutgers squeaked by No. 12 Seton Hall 76-70. This was a close game, with the lead going back and forth all game before Rutgers finally pulled ahead for good in overtime. And late at night, No. 11 Marquette beat up on No. 14 Providence 87-66.
The USF-Villanova game could have gone the way of the Marquette-Providence matchup, as Villanova was ranked five slots higher than the Bulls, but USF played one of their best games all season and stole the game from Villanova in the final 20 seconds of play. They move on to face No. 7 Cincinnati today, with the winner of that game facing No. 2 Notre Dame on Thursday.
Wednesday, March 9
No. 8 Georgetown vs. UConn – Noon
No. 5 St. John’s vs. Rutgers – 2 p.m.
No. 7 Cincinnati vs. South Florida – 7 p.m.
No. 6 West Virginia vs. Marquette – 9 p.m.
Thursday, March 10
No. 1 Pittsburgh vs. 8/9/16 Winner – Noon
No. 4 Syracuse vs. 5/12/13 Winner – 2 p.m.
No. 2 Notre Dame vs. 7/10/15 Winner – 7 p.m.
No. 3 Louisville vs. 6/11/14 Winner – 9 p.m.
After being down 16 points at the half, USF comes back to win a 70-69 thriller over Villanova in the first round of the Big East Tournament. USF was led by Shaun Noriega's 22 points, while Augustus Gilchrist had 16 including some huge baskets down the stretch, and Jawanza Poland chipped in 11. Villanova was led by Maalik Wayns, who had a game high 24 points, Corey Stokes came back from his hamstring injury to add 16 off the bench, and Corey Fisher had 15 for the Wildcats.
USF took a 68-67 lead with 22 seconds left after a Wayns pass intended for Antonio Pena landed in the hands of Anthony Crater who was able to lay it in. Villanova took the lead back with 12 seconds to go as Wayns was able to draw a foul on Toarlyn Fitzpatrick and nailed both free throws. Anthony Crater took the inbounds pass and went unguarded from coast to coast to sink the game winner with 7 seconds to go. A Maalik Wayns prayer from just inside the 3-point line missed, and the Bulls move on to the 2nd round of the Big East Tournament for only the 2nd time in team history.
I would write more about the win, but I think Voodoo Five puts it better than I can.
The Bulls will now face Cincinnati in the quarterfinals tomorrow night at 7 PM. Make sure you visit Voodoo Five tomorrow for more USF/Cincinnati coverage.
USF has done a tremendous job in the 2nd half, as they have worked a 16 point deficit down to 4 with 3:53 left in the First Round of the Big East Tournament. Shaun Noriega still leads the Bulls in scoring with 22 points, while Jawanza Poland and Augustus Gilchrist have each chipped in 11 points.
The Bulls have been able to keep in the game with a little thanks to Villanova’s lack of depth down low. Maurice Sutton is up to 4 fouls, while Isiaiah Armwood, Antonio Pena, and Corey Fisher all have 3 fouls. Mouphtaou Yarou also took a hard fall at the end of the first half and hasn’t returned since.
Villanova is being willed by Corey Fisher and Maalik Wayns, and Corey Stokes, who have 49 of Villanova’s 61 total points. Should be another close game here at Madison Square Garden after Rutgers defeated Seton Hall in overtime earlier today. Let’s hope USF pulls off the minor miracle.
Well, the patented USF collapse happened a little earlier than imagined. After Shaun Noriega picked up his second foul, Villanova went on a major run and now lead 49-33 at halftime.
Shaun Noriega leads the Bulls with 16 points, while Augustus Gilchrist has chipped in with 7. Villanova is led by their Big 3 guards. Corey Stokes has done well coming off the bench, scoring a team high 16 points, while Corey Fisher has 11 points, and Maalik Wayns has 12.
Villanova has dominated the glass so far tonight, outrebounding the Bulls 19-9. For the size advantage USF has in the middle, the Bulls have to do a better job on the glass to keep this game close.
If there is a way USF can get back into the game, its that Villanova is in serious foul trouble. Corey Fisher has 3 fouls. Mouphtaou Yarou, Antonio Pena, and Maurice Sutton all have 2 fouls. If USF can attack the post and create contact, it might force Jay Wright to use his bench.
If you had Shaun Noriega hitting 5 three-pointers in the first 12 minutes of the game, you may collect your winnings now. The Soph. Guard from North Port, FL has been on fire for the Bulls, scoring 15 of USF’s 26 points in the first half, all from three.
Corey Stokes was cleared to play, and is doing his part to keep Villanova in it, scoring 14 points himself. Looks like it will be another close game for the Bulls.
Tonight, the USF Bulls (9-22) head to the Mecca of college basketball to face the Villanova Wildcats (21-10) in the 1st Round of the Big East Tournament. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. and will be televised nationally on ESPNU.
Villanova came out of the gates fast, starting the season 16-1 before getting to the meat of the Big East schedule. Since then, Villanova has dropped nine of its next 14, including its last four games. Voodoo Five talked with Chris Lane from The Nova Blog about this, and at what point did everything turn for the worse.
"Providence comes to mind. We just got shellacked by them. We couldn't hit a shot for the life of us and Providence didn't shoot the ball well either. They still won by 15. That seems like it scared the crap out of us. Since then it's been like we're walking on eggshells trying NOT to make a mistake instead of just playing.
The team's confidence is clearly shaken. It's almost time for a 'screw it all' attitude and just go out there and play loose."
Part of the lack of confidence has been the rash of injuries Coach Wright and the team has had to endure. We talked about Corey Stokes' hamstring injury earlier today, but Stokes has had to battle with a turf toe injury over the last month. To top it off, senior guard Corey Fisher has been battling tendinitis in his right knee, and his ability to drive into the lane has been hampered, and he is forced to become a jump shooter which he is not very good at. Maalik Wayns has had to step up and handle most of the ball handling duties, and for the most part has done well. He attacks the basket relentlessly, and finishes extremely well for a player his size in the post. Wayns was the only player to score consistently against Pitt in the season finale, scoring 27 of the team's 50 points on Sunday.
For Villanova down in the post, they rely on senior Antonio Pena and sophomore Mouphtaou Yarou. The 6'10" Yarou is a project down, but he has the strength and athleticism defensively to keep smaller teams out of the post. Offensively he still has some issues, but his post moves are improving everyday. Pena isn't a banger like Yarou is, but he does block out well for rebounds, and will get in the middle if he has to. Pena has a sweet baseline jumper from about 15 feet out that is pretty deadly, and picks up his fair share of putbacks off the offensive glass.
So what should we expect from the Bulls tonight? Let's hear what The Nova Blog and Voodoo Five have to say. From TNB:
"Does anyone know what to expect at this point? I honestly have no clue. The one thing I do know is that the Cats should be worried about tomorrow night's game and that game only. They have no right to even look at a potential second round game. This team just needs to play well against South Florida. Once the outcome is determined, the focus can switch to something else, but right now, Villanova needs to think about playing stellar basketball for 2 hours. We haven't seen this in over a month. No more excuses."
And finally from V5,
So what do I think will happen tonight? I think we pull it out. Villanova is looking towards the NCAAs next weekend, and if they have to bow out of this tournament early to get everyone healthy, so be it. Plus, I need at least one more Ducreux meme to get me through the offseason.
Check back to Voodoo Five for more USF coverage, and we will have more updates as they come throughout the day from MSG.
The Big East Tournament kicks off in just a couple short hours, with Connecticut taking on DePaul at noon, so we're in for a week full of excitement and intrigue. Actually, that's not entirely accurate: if you're a fan of USF, it may only be a day of excitement.
USF is the lowest ranked team in the Big East Tourney (No. 15), and it's entirely possible that they won't advance beyond tonight's game against Villanova (ranked No. 10). If they do happen to win, though, here's the bracket schedule going forward:
Tuesday, March 8
NO. 9 CONNECTICUT VS. NO. 16 DEPAUL - Noon
NO. 12 SETON HALL VS. NO. 13 RUTGERS - 2 p.m.
NO. 10 VILLANOVA VS. NO. 15 USF - 7 p.m.
NO. 11 MARQUETTE VS. NO. 14 PROVIDENCE - 9 p.m.
Wednesday, March 9
NO. 8 GEORGETOWN VS. 9/16 WINNER - Noon
NO. 5 ST. JOHN'S VS. 12/13 WINNER - 2 p.m.
NO. 7 CINCINNATI VS. 10/15 WINNER - 7 p.m.
NO. 6 WEST VIRGINIA VS. 11/14 WINNER - 9 p.m.
Thursday, March 10
NO. 1 PITTSBURGH VS. 8/9/16 WINNER - Noon
NO. 4 SYRACUSE VS. 5/12/13 WINNER - 2 p.m.
NO. 2 NOTRE DAME VS. 7/10/15 WINNER - 7 p.m.
NO. 3 LOUISVILLE VS. 6/11/14 WINNER - 9 p.m.
Friday, March 11
THURSDAY AFTERNOON WINNERS - 7 p.m.
THURSDAY EVENING WINNERS - 9 p.m.
Saturday, March 12
CHAMPIONSHIP GAME - 9 p.m.
We'll have plenty of game coverage of tonight's game between USF and Villanova, including a game preview coming later today. Also, feel free to check out Voodoo Five for more in-depth coverage of the USF Bulls.
USF has received a bit of good news in their matchup against Villanova tonight, as Sr. guard Corey Stokes has been ruled a gametime decision according to CSN Philadelphia. If you remember from their previous meeting in January, Stokes went a perfect 5-5 from beyond the arc and scored a game high 22 points in Villanova's 84-72 win in Tampa.
Coach Jay Wright did not seem confident when talking to the media about Stokes' availability in tonight's matchup,
"I’m pretty concerned, man. He had this also when he had the toe, and we thought we’d give it a shot [Saturday], but he was still hobbling. We’ll play on Tuesday, I don’t know. I’m a little worried. Not long-term. But worried about Tuesday."
With Stokes most likely out, Nova's options off the bench are very slim. 6'7" Soph. Isaiah Armwood (2.6 PTS/3.8 REB) gives Coach Wright the ability to go big, and give one of his guards a rest. We will probably see that a lot tonight. 6'11" Soph. Maurice Sutton (2.5 PTS/2.3 REB) is mainly there as cover for Pena and Yarou, but don't be surprised if he gets some extended minutes if Stokes is out. At guard, 6'5" Fr. James Bell (2.7 PTS/1.3 REB) is there only if someone else gets hurt or if Villanova gets into foul trouble.
We'll keep an eye on this situation all the way up to gametime for you.
After being unable to close the deal against the Big East's top teams all season, the South Florida Bulls will get at least one more chance in the conference tournament at Madison Square Garden. Seeded 15th in the Big East Tournament bracket, USF will face the 10th-seeded Villanova Wildcats in the first round on Tuesday night. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. on ESPNU.
Even though Nova is hanging around the periphery of the Top 25 and their spot in the NCAA Tournament is secure, they are reeling and banged up. The Wildcats are playing nowhere close to the level they were at in January when they peaked at 16-1 and reached #7 in the country. Since then, Villanova is only 5-9, with six losses in their last eight games and four in a row to end the regular season. Now with the Coreys (Stokes and Fisher) injured, the question around Philadelphia is whether or not the team can salvage their season:
The Wildcats enter Tuesday's first-round game in the Big East tournament against South Florida not knowing the status of Corey Stokes, who sat out Saturday's 60-50 loss to Pitt with a hamstring injury. In addition, Corey Fisher, struggling with tendinitis in his knee, went 3-for-14 and scored just seven points against the Panthers...
The Wildcats said the right things after Saturday's game, that it's a new season and that they're prepared to handle the high-stakes one-and-done nature of the post-season.
But even though Wright insists that the spirits of his players are great and that they come to practice prepared and ready to work, there is no reason to be very optimistic that the Wildcats will win more than one game in the Big East tournament, or get through the first weekend of the NCAAs.
Like they did against seemingly all of the up-and-down teams in the league, USF caught Villanova at its peak. In their only meeting of the season on January 7, the Bulls held tough for well over a half (stop me if you've heard this one before) until the Wildcats went on a second-half tear and claimed an 83-71 win. Stokes and Dominic Cheek combined for 39 points on 12-for-14 shooting, including an unbelievable 9-for-9 from three-point range. As a team, Villanova shot 58% from the field in that game at the Sun Dome.
We may not know very much about the status of Fisher and Stokes before game time. But their health, plus the odds that Villanova can't possibly shoot that well again, should give Bulls fans at least a little bit of hope as their team once again tries to knock out a Big East heavyweight.
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