Michigan (6-0) at USF (4-2)
When: Sat., 3 p.m.
Where: Sun Dome
TV/Radio: ESPN2, 620 WDAE
The story: Coming off a four-game road trip and a satisfying 77-52 win against Stetson, the men’s basketball team finds itself host to a Michigan team that is already receiving 29 votes in the AP Poll.
In the three years coach Robert McCullum has been at the reins, the Bulls are 17-11 in non-conference games but are still pretty injury depleted, with guard Collin Dennis not traveling with the team to Deland on Tuesday.
Last season on Dec. 11, 2004, the Bulls went up to Ann Arbor and lost 71-64 in their first visit to Crisler Arena. Also, in the 1987-88 season, USF also dropped a 92-56 game to Michigan, leaving the Bulls winless to a storied team in maize and blue.
The undefeated Wolverines are led by Courtney Sims, who has 102 points in six games. The 6-foot-11 forward is averaging 27 points a game in just 167 minutes played, but guard Daniel Horton has a team-high 34 points per game and 204 minutes played.
Fellow guard Dion Harris leads the team three-point attempts with 29 but has made only 12, while Sims, Michigan’s large presence under the board, has racked up 49 rebounds in just six games.
The Bulls, while low on reserves, have not been silent on the court either.
With injuries to Dennis and guard Chris Howard out for the season, junior Chris Capko and senior James Holmes have stepped up the task of filling in more time than expected.
Holmes leads the team with 124 points, 30 more than Melvin Buckley, as well as playing in 237 of the 250 minutes of the Bulls’ six games. Capko, who just a week ago was second in the nation in assists per game – now eighth – leads the team with assists (41) as he runs the offense from the backcourt.
Keep an eye on: Solomon Jones and McHugh Mattis. The senior and the freshman, respectively, are in a friendly “competition” for who will have the most blocks at the end of the season.
Jones, who McCullum claims has the slight edge with his 6-foot-10 frame, is tied for sixth in the nation with 3.5 blocks per game and has a team-high 23. Mattis has 19, but Jones averages 10 rebounds per game.
– Mike Camunas
No. 13 Michigan State (5-2) at USF (6-1, 1-0 Big East)
When: Sat., 6 p.m.
Where: Sun Dome
TV/Radio: None, 570 WTBN
The story: The Bulls are looking to avoid a letdown against the No. 13 Michigan State Spartans at home after the biggest upset in USF basketball history: a 79-77 overtime win against No. 11 DePaul on Wednesday.
USF is playing its third straight game against a ranked opponent as a result of coach Jose Fernandez’s scheduling of the NCAA’s best. USF’s recent upset was even more remarkable considering the Bulls only played six players against the Blue Demons, and two players -Shantia Grace and Jessica Dickson – played the entire game. Through seven games, the Bulls have only lost one game – a 71-47 drubbing at the hands of No. 5 North Carolina.
Michigan State’s two losses also came from top-10 teams – No. 1 Tennessee and No. 10 Maryland – and it is riding a two-game winning streak into Saturday’s game.
The Spartans are led by senior forward Liz Shimek, who is second in the Big Ten in scoring average with 20 points per game and third in conference with 8.9 rebounds per game. In Michigan State’s last game against Detroit, Shimek scored 29 points, her career high. The Bulls will need solid play from forwards Nalini Miller and Sharon Cambridge to contain Shimek.
Keep an eye on: Jessica Dickson. The forward is on her way to becoming the most prolific scorer in USF basketball history. Dickson is averaging 25.7 points a game, which is the highest scoring average in the nation. As a freshman, Dickson finished nine points shy of the all-time single-season scoring record of 549, set by Wanda Guyton in 1989, but this season, the junior already has 145 through seven games. With 1,218 points, the sharpshooter has the women’s record of 1,820 points by Guyton, and even the men’s record – 2,319 points by Charlie Bradley – in her sights.
– Tony Marquis