Panthers set to pounce on Bulls in Big East affair

After getting back in the win column, the No. 23 Pittsburgh Panthers will try to get a streak going when they host the South Florida Bulls in Big East action at Petersen Events Center.

It has been a long season for the Bulls. With losses in nine straight games USF has fallen to just 10-16 overall, while plummeting to the cellar of the Big East with just a single win in 14 league bouts.

As for the Panthers, they put an end to a two-game slide with a 63-47 victory over St. John's at Madison Square Garden on Sunday. Pittsburgh is now 21-7 overall, making it one of six teams in the Big East to have reached the 20-win plateau at this point. In league action Pittsburgh has earned a 9-6 mark, which has it in the upper half of the Big East standings.

A year ago South Florida actually swept the season series with Pittsburgh to even the all-time series at five wins apiece.

South Florida also faced St. John's in its last outing but came out on the short end of that 69-54 decision. The Bulls managed to connect on just 36.8 percent from the floor, while turning in an ugly 3-of-12 effort from the free- throw line.

Victor Rudd recorded a double-double of 18 points and 11 rebounds in the losing effort. Rudd (11.5 ppg, 7.1 rpg) has been solid enough on the inside as the team's leading scorer. Toarlyn Fitzpatrick (10.2 ppg) is the only other player in double figures. As a team the Bulls rank at the bottom of the Big East in scoring (59 pg), assists (11.3 pg) and field-goal percentage (.388). That has taken away from solid defensive efforts, as the Bulls let up 62.8 points per game on 42.2 percent shooting.

Pittsburgh locked up on defense and got enough going offensively to cruise to the 16-point victory against St. John's. The Panthers held the Red Storm to just 36.7 percent shooting, while forcing a game-high 12 turnovers. Tray Woodall was stellar in the contest pouring in a game-high 25 points.

The Panthers have been one of the more fundamentally sound teams on both ends of the floor this season. They are 10th in the country in assists (16.5 ppg), while ranking in the top 25 in field-goal percentage (.475). On defense the Panthers allow fewer than 55 points per game. The Panthers aren't an overly prolific offensive team, with Woodall (11.4 ppg, 5.2 apg) serving as lead scorer as one of just two players in double figures. Woodall is also among the top 10 in assists among players in the Big East. Lamar Patterson (10.2 ppg) is another double digit scorer, while Talib Zanna (9.9 ppg, 5.6 rpg) is hovering just under that mark.