WHO: Tennessee Tech at USF WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday WHERE: Sun Dome TV: ESPN3 RADIO: 98.7-FM The Fan (Jim Louk, Jim Lighthall) LIVE STATS: GoUSFBulls.com LIVE TWITTER UPDATES: @USFMBB PURCHASE TICKETS
By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
TAMPA – The Bulls tuned up for the season with an 88-53 exhibition win over Barry on Monday and now it’s time for the real thing.
The USF men’s basketball gets its regular season started 7 p.m. Saturday with a test against Tennessee Tech at the Sun Dome. The Bulls are 31-11 all-time in season openers and have a 2-0 lead in its series with the Golden Eagles that dates back to 1975.
“We’ve got one under our belt, but these count. I think we learned a lot from our first exhibition,” head coach Stan Heath said.
One of the Bulls’ main objectives in the offseason was to get more help in the inside game and two of Heath’s newest acquisitions made an instant impact against Barry. Freshmen Chris Perry (6-foot-8) and John Egbunu (6-10) combined for 20 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks.
“Both have a presence inside, whether it’s catching and shooting, shot blocking or rebounding,” Heath said. “The combination of the two equaled 20 points and 12 rebounds. For two guys to kind of handle that position, that’s a pretty good night. If we can get that every night we’ll be awfully happy.”
Perry (Bartow, Fla.) and Egbunu (Fort Walton Beach) will look to help the Bulls rule the boards against an Ohio Valley Conference opponent that averaged 33.5 rebounds per game last season. Tennessee Tech returns four starters, including senior Dennis Ogbe, who averaged 10.8 points and 5.4 rebounds in 2012-13.
“They’re very good on the glass,” Heath said.
Heath also said the transition game will be a focus for the USF defense as it tries to contain senior guard Jeremiah Samarrippas (Bartow, Fla.) who collected 123 assists in his first season with the Golden Eagles.
“They get up and run well and they space well. They’re a team we have to be on-guard for,” Heath said.
USF finishes up a two-game home stand 7 p.m. Tuesday against Bethune-Cookman before hitting the road for the first time to face Bowling Green on Nov. 15 at 8:30 p.m.