USF’s LAS VEGAS CLASSIC SCHEDULE: 8 p.m. Sunday vs. Mississippi State; Monday vs. UNLV or Santa Clara (time 8 p.m./10:30 p.m.) WHERE: Orleans Arena, Las Vegas, Nev. TV: CBS Sports Network (Monday’s game) RADIO: 98.7-FM The Fan, BullsCast TWITTER UPDATES: @USFMBB
By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
TAMPA (Dec. 21, 2013) – USF has headed West for the second half of the Continental Tire Las Vegas and the Bulls have taken plenty of momentum with them.
Head coach Stan Heath’s 8-2 squad shoots for its fifth consecutive victory 8 p.m. Sunday against Mississippi State before finishing up the Classic against UNLV or Santa Clara on Monday at Orleans Arena.
The Bulls have matched their best start since 2009-10 after edging FAMU, 73-30, Thursday night at the Sun Dome. Corey Allen Jr. hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 37 seconds remaining to help the Bulls extend their streak in dramatic fashion. USF has defeated its past four opponents by a combined nine points and started the Las Vegas Classic with a 68-66 double-overtime victory over FGCU on Tuesday night.
“At the end of the day it’s not going to say we won by one, two, 25 or 30. It’s going to say ‘W,’” Heath said. “The guys are finding a way to get it done.”
USF knows it will need more clutch play down the stretch to get past Mississippi State on Sunday night. The Bulldogs (8-2) posted their third straight victory by getting past FGCU, 66-52, on Thursday night. Sophomore guard Craig Sword (15. 5 ppg) leads in the team in scoring and has averaged 20.5 points in the past five games. Gavin Ware (10.7 ppg) ranks seventh in the SEC with 8.1 rebounds per game.
Mississippi State has been stellar on defense this season, allowing an average of 64.1 points while ranking eighth in the nation with 9.9 steals per game.
UNLV (6-4) faces Santa Clara (6-5) after Sunday’s USF-Mississippi State game and both of the Bulls' potential opponents head into the second portion of the Classic on a hot streak. UNLV posted its second consecutive win by getting dominating Sacred Heart, 82-50, on Friday. Santa Clara looks for its fourth straight win after defeating Sacred Heart, 70-61, on Wednesday.
A USF win on Sunday would send the Bulls to Monday’s 10:30 p.m. (ET) Classic championship game time slot. A USF loss against Mississippi State would send the Bulls to Monday’s 8 p.m. (ET) time slot. Monday’s games will be televised nationally on the CBS Sports Network.