Seton Hall is enjoying one of its finest seasons ever, as the team is 15-2, which includes a 4-1 mark in conference -- its best league start since 1999-2000. The Pirates have won their last four games, the most recent of which being a 94-73 rout of visiting DePaul on Tuesday night. With that victory, SHU improved to a perfect 10-0 at home and the team is ranked in the Top-25 for the first time since the 2000-01 season.
South Florida is a game over .500 on the year at 9-8, and the Bulls have split their four Big East bouts thus far. USF is coming off a 60-49 setback at Notre Dame, putting an end to a modest two-game win streak, but there is reason for optimism tonight as the Bulls have logged an 8-1 home record to this point.
Seton Hall has won eight of the nine previous meetings with South Florida, and the Bulls claimed their only win in the series the last time the two met in Tampa, 76-74, in overtime on January 29, 2010.
Fuquan Edwin scored a career-high 28 points and grabbed nine rebounds to help lead the Pirates to victory in their recent home clash with DePaul. Not content to let Edwin garner all the attention, Jordan Theodore put forth an impressive effort of his own, matching his career high with 26 points, while also dishing out 11 assists to log his fifth double-double of the season. Aaron Crosby added 15 points and Herb Pope, who leads the Big East with 10 double-doubles this season, finished with 11 points and 13 rebounds for Seton Hall, which shot a sizzling 58.7 percent from the field, which included an 11- of-21 showing (.524) from three-point range. Defensively, the Pirates limited the Blue Demons to 34.3 percent field goal efficiency, and to just 25.0 percent from beyond the arc. For the season, SHU is averaging 73.2 ppg in hitting 46.1 percent of its total shots, and 37.8 percent of its three- pointers, while yielding 62.9 ppg with foes shooting 41.4 percent from the floor, and just 29.0 percent from downtown. Pope (17.5 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 31 blocks) leads the team in scoring, on the glass and in swatting shots, while Theodore (16.5 ppg, 7.6 rpg) and Edwin (14.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg) have been consistent contributors as well.
The Bulls had a horrendous shooting night in the recent loss at Notre Dame, hitting a mere 38.2 percent of their field goal attempts and only 1-of-13 three-point tries in failing to score 50 points for the fifth time this season. Augustus Gilchrist and Jawanza Poland were the only USF players to score in double figures, netting 13 and 12 points, respectively, while Toarlyn Fitzpatrick and Ron Anderson, Jr. grabbed 10 rebounds each. As it was in that contest, Poland and Gilchrist are the only two Bulls averaging in excess of 10 ppg this season, with the former netting 11.2 ppg and the latter hot on his heels with 11.0 ppg. Fitzpatrick is the team's top rebounder with 6.9 per outing, South Florida as a team comes in at +2.4 in rebounding margin. The offensively-challenged Bulls are putting up just 61.4 ppg behind lackluster shooting outputs of 43.4 percent overall and 32.0 percent from long range, but the team has logged as many wins as it has primarily due to its defensive effort which yields just 58.3 ppg, as foes are connecting on a mere 40.8 percent of their total shots and only 30.6 percent of their three-pointers.