Bulls host surprising Seton Hall on Friday

The men’s basketball team returns home Friday nightto welcome Seton Hall, one of the most surprising teams

early on in Big East play.

The No. 24 Pirates (15-2),picked to finish 13th in the preseason media poll, come to Tampa second in theBig East with a 4-1 recordin the league, just a halfgame back of undefeatedNo. 1 Syracuse. Seton Halllost 75-49 to the Orange in the Big East opener Dec. 28. Their only other loss of the season came on a neutralfloor to Northwestern 80-73 in the Charleston Classic.

Seton Hall is led byforward Herb Pope, whoaverages a double-double with17.5 points and 10.8 rebounds per game. Jordan Theodore (16.5) and Fuquan Edwin (14.9) also average doublefigures in points.

USF (9-8, 2-2) is coming off a 60-49 loss at Notre Dameon Tuesday night, whichended a two-game Big East winning streak.

Guard Jawanza Poland, who made his season debutDec. 19 in a win overCleveland State, is finding his rhythm after a long spell onthe sidelines with a backinjury, averaging 11 points per game. He scored 12 points off the bench against theFighting Irish.

USF lost 64-55 at Seton Hall in last season’s Big Eastopener. Guard Hugh Robertson led the Bulls with 14 points in that loss, though Poland and forward Augustus Gilchrist were also in double figures.

USF is 8-1 at homethis season and 4-1 atthe Tampa Bay Times Forum,with the only blemishbeing a 60-57 loss todefending national championConnecticut on Dec. 28.

Tipoff at the Forum isscheduled for 7 p.m.