WHO: USF (9-5, 0-2) at No. 3/4 Louisville (14-1, 2-0)
WHEN: 4 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: KFC YUM! Center, Louisville, Ky.
TV: Big East Network/BHSN (Jim Barber and Darrin Horn)
RADIO: 98.7-FM The Fan (Jim Lighthall and Todd Kalas)
By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
TAMPA - The Bulls' Big East schedule continues to be a beast early on.
The USF men's basketball team looks to snap a two-game losing streak in the league when it faces No. 3 Louisville 4 p.m. Saturday at the KFC YUM! Center in Kentucky. The Bulls (9-5, 0-2) started Big East play with a 55-44 loss to No. 7 Syracuse and dropped a 61-53 decision against Villanova on Wednesday night.
USF fans should fondly remember last season's battle with the Cardinals. The Bulls strengthened their NCAA tournament resume with a 58-51 victory in Kentucky that marked USF's first win over Louisville since joining the Big East.
A key to success in that game started with defense and the Bulls know Saturday's installment will be much of the same. USF held Louisville to a season-low scoring total in the last meeting and led, 22-17, at the half.
"We got off to a great start and we set the tone defensively," head coach Stan Heath said.
The Bulls' inability to start off fast ultimately led to a Villanova snapping a four-game losing streak against USF on Wednesday night at the Sun Dome. Toarlyn Fitzpatrick gave USF its lone lead with a 3-pointer in the first three minutes and the Bulls spent most of the night trying to catch up while shooting 36 percent from the floor.
"I think the most important thing we can do right now is watch the film and fix some of the things we can fix," Heath said.
Another fix that would benefit the Bulls this weekend is on the boards after watching Villanova and Syracuse gain the edge in Tampa. USF didn't have a player in double digits on the glass last season against Louisville but found a way to grab a 40-29 rebounding advantage.
The Cardinals (14-1, 2-0) are averaging 38 rebounds per game this season, led by Gorgui Dieng (9 rpg), and have won nine straight since a 76-71 loss to Duke on Nov. 24.
USF remain on the road to face Rutgers 9 p.m. Thursday in a game that will be televised nationally on ESPN2. The Bulls then head back to the Sun Dome to host Georgetown Saturday, Jan. 19 at 6 p.m.