WHO: Villanova (10-4, 1-0) at USF (9-4, 0-1)
WHEN: 8 p.m. Wednesday
WHERE: Sun Dome
TV: Big East Network/BHSN (Rich Hollenberg and Bob Wenzel) / ESPN3
RADIO: 98.7-FM The Fan (Jim Lighthall and Todd Kalas)
By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
TAMPA - The Bulls are looking to bounce back in Big East play against an opponent they had much success against last season.
The USF men's basketball team hosts Villanova at 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Sun Dome. The Bulls have won four straight against the Wildcats including three during the 2011-12 season.
"We played well against Villanova last year. We were able to match them physically inside and we had good guard play," USF head coach Stan Heath said.
USF beat Villanova by an average of 13 points last season while the Wildcats shot just 34 percent from the field overall. Villanova (10-4, 1-0) averaged 56 points against the Bulls last year but has stepped up its game quite a bit this season, averaging 72 points and shooting 41 percent from the field. JayVaughn Pinkston leads four players in double-digit scoring figures with 13.2 points while the Wildcats have put up at least 70 points in the past four games.
"They have a good team and have won five in a row," Heath said. "They're very physical, very aggressive and it's a big game for us. We need to get into the win column in this game."
USF (9-4, 0-1) opened up Big East play with a 44-55 loss to No. 7 Syracuse on Sunday at the Sun Dome. The Bulls got outrebounded, 43-26, and they're determined to get back on track against a Villanova team that's averaging 38 boards per game.
One constant on the glass for USF has been Victor Rudd, who pulled down 11 rebounds against Syracuse and leads the team with 8.1 per game. The junior forward also scored 15 points against the Orange and has four double-doubles this season.
"I'm very pleased when he's very aggressive in the games and more attacking the rim. When he does that, it plays to his strength and makes us a better team," said Heath of Rudd, who has two straight double-doubles.
Another player to watch Wednesday night is Jawanza Poland, who has increased his season scoring average to 11.2 points. The senior guard has been in double figures in four straight games and averaged 12 points against the Wildcats last season.
Poland and Rudd were the lone Bulls in double figures against the Orange and the Bulls are motivated to step it up on the scoring end after posting a season-low 44 points against Syracuse's tough 2-3 zone defense.
"We have to learn from it and move on," said Anthony Collins, who ranks fifth in the country with 7.8 assists per game.
- Heath is six victories away from No. 200 in his coaching career.
- USF had the rebounding advantage each time out against the Wildcats last season.
- Villanova has not played since a 98-86 overtime victory over St. John's on Jan. 2.
- Wildcats guard Ryan Arcidiacono has been named Big East Freshman of the Week two straight times and he's second on the team with 13 points per game this season.
- The Bulls travel to Louisville for a matchup with the No. 3 Cardinals on Saturday at 4 p.m.