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USF works on ball security before contest with Knights


When the Bulls (8-8, 3-2) tip off with UCF (8-7, 1-4) Saturday in Orlando, they’ll be focusing on keeping the ball in their possession, rather than the in-state rivalry, coach Jose Fernandez said.

“I think our big thing right now is our ball security,” Fernandez said. “That’s valuing the basketball. That’s got to continue to improve with as many conference games as we have left.”

The Bulls started their conference stretch of games over winter break with a 53-66 loss to Rutgers on Dec 28. Since then, they have played four games with only one loss against No. 5 Louisville.

During their three-game winning streak against Houston, SMU and Temple, the Bulls found various ways to control the ball. The Bulls averaged 47.6 rebounds per game, with about 14.3 of those being offensive, which makes them second in the conference in both offensive and defensive rebounds.

Sophomore forward Alisia Jenkins, who is currently averaging a double-double, agrees with Fernandez’s thoughts on valuing the ball from her position near the basket.

“I feel as if when he says that, our guards and even our post players … have to value the ball and treasure the ball like a baby,” Jenkins said. “When a guard has the ball and a defender is right there, you have to keep the ball in motion and have confidence in your dribble.”

The Bulls are allowing an average of 13 points off turnovers per game against the past four conference opponents. With six of the Bulls’ eight losses in single digits, the team’s focus this week is to lower the points allowed off turnovers.

Fernandez has seen improvement, though, in another area that figures to help against the Knight’s Briahanna Jackson, the fourth-highest scorer in the

“I think we’re defending better,” Fernandez said. “We’ve simplified some things on the defensive end and that’s shown in the past three wins. We’ve got to bounce back, and that’s why we are using this week to get better defensively and clean up some things on the
offensive end.”

The Bulls tip off with the Knights at 7 p.m Saturday.