South Florida-Pittsburgh Preview
The No. 23 Panthers will likely be counting on their defense Wednesday night when they try to hand the visiting Bulls a 10th straight loss.
Pittsburgh (21-7, 9-6) is yielding 54.9 points per game to lead the conference while South Florida (10-16, 1-13) is averaging 59.0, making it obvious what concerns Bulls coach Stan Heath entering this matchup.
"I think they changed the size of the rim, I think it's smaller when we play because we can't throw it in the ocean," Heath said. "But you can see it across the country and I don't know if anybody can put a finger on one specific thing."
There's little chance that the Panthers will overlook a Bulls team enduring its longest slide since a 10-game skid Jan. 5-Feb. 9, 2008. That's because South Florida shot 54.2 percent in winning twice against the Panthers last February, with point guard Anthony Collins totaling 33 points and 12 assists for the Bulls.
Pitt guard Tray Woodall totaled 13 points on 5-of-17 shooting with five assists and seven turnovers in those contests.
Woodall, however, has reached double digits in points in seven straight games and scored a season-high 25 as the Panthers avoided a third straight loss with a 63-47 victory at St. John's on Sunday.
"I was comfortable," said Woodall, who made 8 of 14 shots. "I am a senior and I should be comfortable out here. I wanted to try and shift the momentum of the team. I was not surprised with the shooting, my team did a great job of rotating the ball and they found me for open shots."
The Panthers are 14-3 at home but have produced identical 34.8 percent shooting efforts in splitting their last two games at the Petersen Events Center. Pitt shot 34.6 percent in each loss to South Florida last season.
The Bulls outrebounded the Panthers in both of those meetings, but it could be difficult for them to repeat that feat. South Florida owns the Big East's second-worst rebound margin at minus-3.8 and Pitt owns the second best at plus-6.3, bolstered by the addition of 7-foot freshman Steven Adams.
"Steven Adams I think gives them that inside presence, a big physical body again to go along with some of those other guys that have improved," Heath said.
The Panthers were outrebounded by an average of 12.0 in their consecutive losses before managing to stay within 38-37 in that department against the Red Storm.
"Coach (Jamie Dixon) got after us and we should expect that with the way we played the last two games," forward Lamar Patterson said. "Rebounding was the main focus but those practices got us ready."
South Florida has not played since last Wednesday's 69-54 loss at St. John's. Victor Rudd scored 18 points as the Bulls dropped to 0-7 in Big East road games.