Pittsburgh (12-2, 0-1) at USF (10-5, 1-1)When: Tonight, 7:30Where: Sun DomeTV/Radio: ESPN2/1010 AM

The USF men’s basketball team will look to improve to 2-1 in Big East Conference games played at the Sun Dome this season. The only thing standing in the way: a Pittsburgh team ranked No. 18 in the nation.

The Bulls (10-5, 1-1 Big East) have seen a quick improvement under first-year coach Stan Heath. Several players can attribute their rapid progress to Heath’s style of play.

“I think it’s just mental,” sophomore guard Chris Howard said. “The guys in the locker room are just thinking about winning and what we need to do as a team.”

Over the first half of the season, the Bulls have done what they’ve needed to do. The Bulls’ early success can be attributed to the talented inside-outside duo of senior center Kentrell Gransberry and freshman guard Dominique Jones.

Gransberry is leading the Big East in rebounding, pulling down 11.6 rebounds per game. Jones – who is leading the Bulls with 16.7 points per game – is the sixth leading scorer in the conference.

USF would like to erase last season’s game against Pittsburgh from its memory. After winning in the first meeting between the teams in 2005, South Florida suffered a 69-48 loss last season. With the Panthers holding a Top 20 ranking, the Bulls know that tonight’s game is going to be a difficult one.

“Playing them last year, they were a very aggressive team,” Gransberry said. “They’ve got a lot of great athletes and a great supporting cast.”

For the Bulls, tonight’s game will mark the second time in seven days they have played in front of a national television audience. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2. Heath, as well as his players, would like the students to give them a home court advantage.

“We had a nice win at home against Rutgers, then we went on the road, but now we’re back at home again,” Heath said. “The fans were so huge during our football season, with the enthusiasm they brought. I hope that the fans don’t wait two games or three games to see how we do. Come now. Let’s join the party right now.”

Even though the game will be aired nationally, Heath is keeping his players grounded.

“It’s just another game,” Howard said. “Once you get out there and start playing, you forget about the cameras. You may call your mom or your closest friends and tell them that you’ll be on TV, but once you start playing, it’s just basketball.”

The team feels it has a very talented group of players, and wants more people to see that in person.

“I would say that we’re a very hardworking team with good chemistry between the guys,” Gransberry said. “Every night we’re going to go out there and do the best job we can.”