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#751 USF 123.5 vs.
#752 UCF -4
Saturday, January 18, 2020 at 6:00pm EST
Written by Chris Kubala

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#751 University of South Florida
#752 University of Central Florida
8-9
10-7
9-8
9-7
5-11-1
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64
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A pair of schools from the Sunshine State are in AAC action on the college hardwood. The South Florida Bulls are on the road as they make the trip to face the UCF Knights Saturday evening. South Florida was dropped 68-64 at home by #21 Memphis Sunday in their previous contest. UCF cruised to a 74-55 win on the road over Tulane Tuesday night. The Bulls lead the all-time series 17-14 but the Knights have won the last eight meetings, including a 75-63 road win in the most recent matchup on February 27, 2019.

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South Florida Bulls Try to Snap Slide vs. UCF

South Florida has been up and down all season long with no win streak longer than three games and no skid more than two so far this season. It’s added up to an 8-9 mark overall and a 1-3 conference mark coming into this game. The Bulls have been owned in the series with UCF recently and would love a win here to get back to .500 on the year. South Florida has a couple of solid wins on their resume as they downed Furman at home and Loyola Chicago on a neutral floor. On the flip side, Brian Gregory’s team has a couple of horrible losses, falling to IUPUI at home and on the road to East Carolina this season.

The Bulls are struggling offensively with only 64.4 points per game. South Florida struggles on the glass as they collect 33.9 rebounds per contest and dish out a measly 10.3 assists a night. The Bulls are sound defensively, ranking 51st in the nation by holding opposing teams to 62.7 points per game. David Collins leads the team with 15.1 points plus 3.3 rebounds per contest. Laquincy Rideau contributes 12.9 points per game while Justin Brown, Ezacuras Dawson III, Michael Durr, Rashun Williams and Xavier Casteneda all have to step up and contribute. The Bulls do miss Alexis Yetna, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in practice leading into the season. He averaged 19.3 points and 9.6 rebounds per game last season and led the AAC with 15 double-doubles. South Florida shoots 41.8 percent from the field as a team on the year. The Bulls drain 6.9 triples per game while shooting only 33.7 percent from beyond the arc. South Florida is atrocious at the free throw line as they convert just 60.7 percent of their attempts this season.

The Bulls are 80th in defensive efficiency this season according to KenPom.com as their defense has been their calling card. South Florida struggles when teams actually get a shot up as they are 304th in effective field goal percentage defense (53.3 percent) this season. On the plus side, they are eighth in turnover percentage, forcing a turnover on 25.4 percent of opponent’s possessions. The Bulls are 17th in offensive rebounding percentage allowed at 23 percent on the season. South Florida is a methodical team ranked 292nd in tempo with an average of 66.2 possessions per game this season.

UCF Knights Trying to Build Momentum

UCF is trying to adjust with a new group of personnel this season and there have been some growing pains for the program. The Knights started the year 9-2 with wins over Pepperdine and Charleston. Their lone losses in that stretch were at home to Miami and by one point on a neutral floor against Penn. Things went south in a hurry after that as the Knights dropped five straight games, beginning with a one-point loss at Oklahoma and followed by four straight conference losses. UCF got back in the win column by downing Tulane on the road for their first conference win and now look to string some positive momentum together.

The Knights put up an average of 69.5 points per contest (256th in the country) this season. UCF pulls down 37.4 rebounds per contest (147th) while dishing out 14.6 assists (102nd) per game this season. The Knights are an above average team on the defensive end of the floor, ranking 118th in the nation by allowing 66.5 points per game. Collin Smith leads the team with 13.5 points plus 6.8 rebounds a night. Dazon Ingram chips in 9.1 points plus 7.8 boards a night. Darin Green Jr. (7.8 points), Brandon Mahan, Frank Bertz, Avery Diggs, Dre Fuller Jr., Matt Milon and Ceaser DeJesus (10.7 points) are all important rotation players for the Knights. UCF is shooting 42.9 percent from the floor as a team this season. The Knights drain 6.7 triples a night while shooting 30.5 percent from beyond the arc. UCF is cashing in only 68.9 percent of their chances at the free throw line.

Like South Florida, UCF is better on the defensive end of the floor according to KenPom.com than they are offensively. The Knights are 71st in defensive efficiency this season and rank 104th in effective field goal percentage defense (47.4 percent) on the year. In addition, UCF is 90th in turnover percentage (20.7 percent) and 95th in two-point field goal percentage as they hold the opposition to 46.6 percent shooting this season. One thing to watch for offensively is UCF’s ability to crash the offensive glass as they are 68th in offensive rebounding percentage by collecting boards on 31.8 percent of their own misses. UCF is a slower-paced team as they are 228th in tempo with 67.9 possessions per game. Fuller Jr. is doubtful with a groin injury that has caused him to miss the last two games.

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Both teams are tough on the defensive end of the floor and that is going to make each possession count. There’s not going to be a ton of easy looks at the basket as both teams make it difficult for opposing teams to put up big point totals. UCF is just 6-4 at home this season but that does give them an advantage as South Florida is 0-3 in road games and 1-3 in neutral site contests. That’s something that causes one to fade the Bulls until they prove that they can win away from home. As it stands, look for UCF to win the latest chapter of the War of I-4, much as they have done recently.

Prediction: UCF Knights

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We're not looking at offensive powerhouses in this game by any stretch of the imagination. South Florida has scored more than 70 points just twice this season and hit exactly 70 in one game. That's three games out of 17 where they hit the 70-point plateau this season. UCF has hit that mark 10 times and they have won eight of those contests on the year. If the Knights can avoid turning the ball over repeatedly, which is South Florida's M.O. defensively, they have a shot at getting some good looks at the bucket. The Bulls are 310th in field goal percentage defense (46 percent) and 300th in three-point field goal percentage defense (35.8 percent) this season. It's hard to see a ton of offensive output combined in this game given the tough defenses but this one edges just over the mark by a couple of points with both teams hitting the low-60s in points.

Prediction: Over 123.5
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Written By Chris Kubala

Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in-depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. Now he is writing for our team here at Winners @ Whiners. Chris keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college. He is also very knowledgeable in the NHL, the NBA, college basketball and MLB. If you want consistency, then be sure and check out Chris’ content daily.