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Flourishing Bulls take on UTSA at home

Bulls junior forward Kasean Pryor (middle front) has put up 20 points and 10 rebounds in three straight outings. USF ATHLETICS PHOTO

South Florida will aim to stay hot when it hosts a struggling UTSA squad at the Yuengling Center this Saturday afternoon.

Both teams are fresh off of a win. The Bulls (12-5, 5-1 AAC) took down Temple 75-69 on the road. The Roadrunners (8-12, 2-5 AAC) used a last-second three-pointer to beat Tulane 89-88.

UTSA comes into this matchup with the worst defense in the conference and the third-worst scoring defense in the country

The Roadrunners allow a whopping 83.5 points to their opponents per game, and have given up over 100 points four times this season.

South Florida will need to take advantage of this weakness to keep up with a UTSA offense that is scoring 80.8 points per game, the fourth most in the conference.

UTSA junior guard Christian Tucker is the floor general for the team and knows how to put his teammates in positions to score. 

Tucker leads the conference in assists per game with 5.6 and is tied for the 29th most in the country. He is also the conference’s best free-throw shooter, making 89.1% of his attempts. 

The talented guard will look to get the ball into UTSA junior guard Jordan Ivy-Curry’s hands. Ivy-Curry has averaged 18.4 points in 10 games, after missing the first 10 games of the year due to transfer eligibility rules.

The Bulls are off to their best start in conference play in 23 years under first-year head coach Amir Abdur-Rahim.

Since a 66-56 loss at UMass on Dec. 2 that dropped the Bulls to 2-4, they have won 10 of their last 11 games. USF also owns a four-game win streak that includes come-from-behind wins over Rice and No. 10 Memphis.

Related: Takeaways from USF’s dramatic win over No. 10 Memphis

Abdur-Rahim has made it clear, however, that he doesn’t want this team to get too high on itself.

“I don’t want to be the hot team. I want to be consistent and that’s what we’re focused on, home or away,” Abdur-Rahim said following the Bulls’ win over Temple on Wednesday. “We’re focused on being consistent with our habits, both on and off the court.”

A major part of South Florida’s success in AAC play thus far is junior forward Kasean Pryor. 

Pryor has been electric, averaging 18.3 points and 8.5 rebounds per game against conference opponents. The junior has recorded four straight 20-point outings and three straight double-doubles.

Related: Kasean Pryor is finally experiencing a breakthrough

Despite shooting 33.3% from the three this season, he made four of his five attempts against Temple on Wednesday. His final three-pointer with 26.1 seconds left in the game helped secure the Bulls’ victory. 

Alongside Pryor’s hot streak, the Bulls have still gotten contributions from their other players.

Senior guard Selton Miguel leads the team in scoring with 14.5 points per game despite coming off the bench.

“His superpower is his ability to score at all three levels,” Abdur-Rahim said. “Now he’s learning and trusting those other guys as the attention comes to him.”

While the Bulls were able to come from behind again versus Temple, Abdur-Rahim said there is still plenty to work on. 

The Bulls totaled 15 turnovers on Wednesday. They average 10.7 turnovers per game this season. 

“You’re not winning on the road a whole lot when you got 15 turnovers,” Abdur-Rahim said. “We’re fortunate and if we don’t learn from this now, and it happens again, we deserve everything we get.”

USF hosts UTSA on Saturday at 4 p.m. in the Yuengling Center. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+ and Bulls Unlimited.