WHO: USF (7-0) at Jacksonville (3-4)
WHEN: 1 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Swisher Gymnasium, Jacksonville
By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
TAMPA - Jose Fernandez is a stickler for the details.
Even when USF cruises to victory, the program's winningest head coach still stresses the importance of rebounding, taking care of the ball or any other way the Bulls can keep improving.
The Bulls have listened very well so far and are off to their first 7-0 start since the 2006-07 season. Fernandez's squad looks to keep rolling 1 p.m. Saturday at Jacksonville before heading back to the Sun Dome to host No. 25 Nebraska next week.
"We're a team that can make a run, that can continue to be undefeated if we can just do the little things that we've been working on," senior guard Andrell Smith said. "We feel if we can play our game, we can stay undefeated and that's motivation."
USF got to the 7-0 mark on Wednesday with a 67-46 win over a Florida Gulf Coast University team that went to the NCAA tournament last season. Smith scored a game-high 19 points, her twin sister, Andrea, added 14 points and Inga Orekhova continued her hot streak with 15 points (4-for-5 from 3-point range).
The Bulls held an opponent to less than 50 points for the third straight game and currently rank in the top 20 nationally in scoring defense at 49.7 points per contest.
Jacksonville (3-4) has lost two straight and dropped an 87-58 decision to Clemson last Sunday in South Carolina. Jade Cargill posted a team-high 17 points and is the lone Dolphin averaging double-digit scoring figures this season at 11.4 points per game.
Saturday could be another opportunity for the Bulls' defense to keep getting stronger in a matchup that favors USF. Jacksonville is turning the ball over 19.7 times per game while the Bulls are top 10 in the country in turnover margin (plus-8.3). Opponents have turned the ball an average of 24 times per contest against USF's multiple defensive sets.
"We've been able to press out of different alignments, different formations, and been able to bring defensive pressure," Fernandez said.
Winning streaks aside, USF will look to post another strong team performance before Nebraska visits the Sun Dome at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 16. Purchase tickets for the game HERE.