WHO: St. John's (8-9, 2-4) at USF (10-8, 3-2)
WHEN: 7 p.m. Wednesday
WHERE: Tampa Bay Times Forum
TV: BEN/BHSN - Rich Hollenberg and Bob Wenzel
RADIO: WDAE 620-AM - Jim Lighthall (play-by-play) and Todd Kalas (analyst)
By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
TAMPA - USF hosts St. John's on Wednesday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum and head coach Stan Heath doesn't care one bit about the Red Storm's record. He knows the Bulls are going to have their hands full.
The Bulls get back to work after a win over No. 24 Seton Hall against a St. John's team (8-9, 2-4) that's lost seven games against ranked teams this season.
"I think there is a big mental challenge here because it's a very talented basketball team that we face," Heath said Tuesday. "I think their record is deceptive."
Moe Harkless and D'Angelo Harrison, both freshmen, are averaging more than 15 points for the Red Storm, who recently won at Cincinnati. Harrison had 18 points in that one and Harkless posted 14 boards.
"We have to bring intensity," Heath said. "We've got to be a team that takes care of the basketball and we have to be able to finish."
Intensity wasn't a problem last Friday in a 56-55 win over Seton Hall. The Bulls had a 14-2 edge in second-chance points and held an opponent to less than 70 points for the eighth straight game.
"I think we understand how important defense is. It gives us a chance," said Heath, whose team leads the Big East in scoring defense (58.1 ppg). "I think our offense continues to evolve and get better we know that every game we need to bring our defense."
USF also has been doing a good job around the hoop, especially Toarlyn Fitzpatrick and Ron Anderson Jr., who have posted 219 rebounds (36 percent of the team's total). Augustus Gilchrist has been coming on strong lately with six rebounds per game to go along with his team-leading scoring average of 10.8 points.
"Those guys have been terrific on the glass," Heath said. "Those are the most experienced players we have and they've been battling like crazy on the boards."
USF (10-8, 3-2) has won three of its past four games thanks to a healthier lineup and more experience in tight league games.
"I do know we're finishing a lot better and we're more comfortable at the end in kind of knowing our roles," Heath said.
Purchase tickets for Wednesday's 7 p.m. game here.