Coming off a 61-54 home loss on Saturday against the Cincinnati Bearcats, the Bulls will host another ranked opponent tonight — the No. 12 Louisville Cardinals.
USF played a close game against the No. 19 Bearcats, and will now get a fourth opportunity to beat a ranked team in the Sun Dome.
The Bulls (10-8, 1-4) struggled offensively against a Cincinnati defense that has proven a tough opponent for every team they’ve faced all season.
Starting junior guard Corey Allen Jr. was held scoreless and took only four shots during his 31 minutes on the court. USF coach Stan Heath was worried about his passive play.
“It’s concerning,” Heath said. “I just thought he was very passive against the zone. I felt he was a little indecisive.”
While Heath said he spoke to Allen about how to attack a zone defense in the future, Heath also said he was impressed with the defensive efforts by the Bulls. The Bearcats’ 61 points was 10 fewer than their average of 71, and the Bulls outrebounded the Bearcats, 36-30.
“(We were) disappointed with the loss, but we certainly rebounded and defended,” Heath said. “I thought our intensity level was very good so we’ve got to build off that.”
The Bulls are seventh in the American Athletic Conference (AAC) this season with a 0.6 rebound margin, while the Bearcats are third, out-rebounding their opponent by nearly five per game.
Louisville recently lost its starting power forward and second leading rebounder Chane Behanan to an undisclosed violation of university policy, but sophomore forward Montrezl Harrell has done well in his absence, averaging 8.4 rebounds a game.
“Harrell on the inside is something we’re going to have to really deal with,” Heath said. “We’re going to have to keep him off the boards, and we’re going to have to limit his ability to get paint scoring. (We have to) keep him away from the rim as much as we can and make him more of
Tonight’s game against Louisville will be the second game in a stretch against three nationally ranked teams the Bulls will have to face, as they travel to No. 23 Memphis on Sunday.
In arguably the toughest stretch of their schedule, Heath shared a bit of what he says to the Bulls prior to taking the floor.
“We’re playing in a great league,” Heath said. “This is what you came to USF for, to play against the best. We got to look at it as opportunity. Obviously we have nothing to lose, no one’s expecting us to do anything in this game except the guys in this
Tipoff is at 7 p.m. at the Sun Dome and the game will broadcast on ESPNU and WatchESPN.