USF hits the road to take on Bearcats

MEN’S BASKETBALL GAME TIMEUSF (11-15, 2-11) at Cincinnati (12-12, 7-5)When: Tonight, 7Where: Fifth Third ArenaTV/Radio: ESPNU/1010 AM

The USF men’s basketball team’s third season in the Big East Conference has been just as rough as the previous two.

The Bulls (11-15, 2-11) have just five games remaining this season and travel to Ohio tonight to play the University of Cincinnati Bearcats (12-12, 7-5).

The Bulls are coming off of a heartbreaking 74-73 overtime loss to the University of Connecticut Huskies on Saturday.

“In a strange way, all of us feel like we’re disappointed that we let the (Connecticut) game slip away,” USF coach Stan Heath said. “But we do feel like we are playing our very best basketball right now.”

The Bulls go into tonight’s game with a lot of momentum. Before their near-upset of Connecticut, the Bulls ended a 10-game losing streak against Syracuse on Feb. 13.

A key factor for the Bulls has been senior center Kentrell Gransberry. He leads the Big East in rebounds per game (11.0) and is seventh in the conference in points per game (17.2).

Over the Bulls’ last two games, Gransberry has averaged 24.5 ppg and 12 rpg.

Freshman guard Dominique Jones has also been playing well. After scoring a game-high 29 points against Syracuse, Jones added 16 for the Bulls against Connecticut.

The Bulls will have their hands full with a UC team that has also built up some momentum recently.

The Bearcats have won three of their last four games – including a 62-39 win at West Virginia on January 30.

One area of the game that could prove detrimental to both teams is shooting free throws. Neither team has been strong from the free-throw line this season.

USF is last in the Big East, shooting 64 percent from the free-throw line. The Bearcats are shooting at 66.8 percent on the season.

A key matchup to watch will be the USF guards against sophomore Bearcat guard Deonta Vaughn. On the season, Vaughn is averaging 17.2 ppg and 3.8 assists per game. He is also a scorer who can take over a game.

Vaughn has scored more than 30 points twice this season – a 36-point performance against Coastal Carolina and a 34-point game against Connecticut on Jan. 23.

“If we play like we’ve been playing, and how we know we are capable of playing, that should translate into wins for us,” Heath said.