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USF’s on a hot streak. But can it beat a ranked opponent?

The Bulls are set to play their first ranked opponent this season on Thursday. USF ORACLE PHOTO

Without a doubt, USF men’s basketball has had its best program run under coach Amir Abdur-Rahim in the past five years. 

The Bulls have won seven of their last eight games, including a second-half comeback victory against Rice on Sunday 81-73.

This momentum is needed now more than ever as USF takes on No. 10 Memphis on Thursday in its fifth road game of the season. 

Related: Bulls showing signs of improvement under Amir Abdur-Rahim

Memphis (15-2, 4-0 AAC) is on a 10-game win streak. Its last loss was against Ole Miss on Dec. 2, 80-77. 

The Tigers average 81.8 points and 37 rebounds per game, proving they are a powerhouse hurdle for USF to overcome on Thursday.

This season, the No. 10 team made history in the AAC Conference. Memphis’ 112 points against Wichita State on Sunday marked the most points scored in an American Conference game.

Wichita State (8-8, 0-3 AAC) was also the fourth game Memphis played this season that went to triple digits. 

Tigers’ senior forward David Jones leads his team with impressive stats. He averages 20.9 points per game and shoots 44.7% from the field.

Fifth-year guard Jahvon Quinerly follows with an average of 14.1 points per game and shoots 45.5% from the field.

USF didn’t have a good run against Memphis in the 2022-23 season, losing 93-86 on Dec. 29 and 99-81 on Feb. 8, but could have a better chance this time around.

Related: Men’s basketball loses at home despite Harris’ strong night 

South Florida is 2-1 in league play, the strongest start to its conference season since the 2019-20 year. 

USF’s 76-68 win over Temple on Jan. 4 also marked its first conference opener win in five years.

If the Bulls sweep the Tigers, it will be their first win against a Top 15 team since the 2011-12 season. USF beat then-No. 19 Louisville in a 58-51 showdown in Kentucky on Feb. 29. 

“We’re not going to make more out of it because it’s Memphis,” Abdur-Rahim said in Sunday’s press conference. “We’re going to treat them with the same respect. We’re going to prepare and focus on South Florida.”

Related: USF outlasts No. 18 Louisville on road

Aside from junior forward Kasean Pryor’s 29 points against the Owls on Sunday, senior guard Selton Miguel followed with 16. Miguel’s 14.6 points per game is ranked second on the team.

Thursday’s game can work as an analysis of how the team will perform on a national stage. 

The Bulls will be traveling to Memphis on Thursday to play their first ranked opponent of the season. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN.