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Seton Hall Pirates (12-6, 3-4) @ South Florida Bulls (12-7, 2-5) 7:00PM Pre-Game Notes

Seton Hall @ South Florida, 7:00PM
Sun Dome, Tampa, FL
Television: ESPN2
Radio: 770 WABC  
Online: Pirates vs. Bulls coverage


Projected Starting Five: G-Theodore, G-Lawrence, G-Hazell, F-Pope, F/C-Robinson

On Sunday, Seton Hall (12-6, 3-4) won back-to-back conference games for the first time this season defeating Pittsburgh, 64-61.  Tomorrow night, they'll attempt to win their first conference road game as they take on the USF Bulls (12-7, 2-5) in Tampa, FL.  The Pirates must enter tomorrow night's contest with the Bulls with the same mindset that prepared them for victories over Louisville and Pittsburgh: must win.  Not only would a loss to USF put the brakes on the recent momentum picked up by a surging Pirates team, but it would also take away from the quality wins Seton Hall posted last week.  Remember come March, "bad losses" will carry as much weight, if not more, than "quality wins." No offense to USF, but a loss tomorrow night would surely constitute a bad loss for a team that may find itself sitting on the bubble in six weeks.  It would be disastrous for the team's morale as the Pirates begin their longest road stretch of the season (3 games in 9 days) that includes contests at 'Nova and Pitt.

Luckily for the Pirates, the Bulls will be playing without their best player, Augustus Gilchrist, who has missed the last 11 games with an injured ankle.  Gilchrist, a 6'10 sophomore, was averaging 19PTS/7REB through the non-conference schedule when he went down with the injury.  Gilchrist and Pope would have been a fun match up to watch, however, Pope won't get off easy.  Instead, the Bulls with throw 6'11 junior, Jarrid Famous (12PTS/8REB) in his direction in an attempt to take control of the boards.  Famous has recorded 5 double-double's this season opposed to Pope's 10 and if the Bulls intend to serve court at home, it would behoove them (Gary Cohen shout-out) to win this battle.  Personally, I think Pope is too athletic for Famous and will be the recipient of a long night of hacking.  Hopefully, he'll take advantage at the charity stripe.

A star is born? USF's Dominique Jones dropped 46PTS/10REB/8AST/3STL in Saturday's 109-105 overtime win at Providence.  He nearly dropped a trip-dub? He nearly dropped a trip-dub while scoring 46! How does that happen!?! Oh yeah, he also played all 45 minutes of regulation AND overtime while shooting 15-of-23, that's borderline unreal.  I take that back, it is unreal.  I'm excited to see him play tomorrow night.  Wait...what?  No, I'm not excited, I'm actually rather nervous. 

The Pirates hold an advantage in many per-game statistical categories:

REB(41-36), AST(16-13), TO(11-14), BLK(5-3), STL(9-7), 3PT(33%-30%) while both teams shoot 45% FG and are nearly identical from FT with USF leading 67% to SHU's 66%.

The Pirates continue to receive nationally televised attention as ESPN2 will be broadcasting from the USF Sun Dome.

Seton Hall has never lost to South Florida, SHU Athletics has the preview of the contest:

Seton Hall and Pittsburgh will meet for the eighth time in history on Thursday. The Pirates have never lost to the Bulls and are 2-0 at the Sun Dome. Last season, Seton Hall defeated USF twice, including a 68-54 victory in the first round of the 2009 BIG EAST Championship.

USF Athletics:

TAMPA - USF looks to win back-to-back BIG EAST games for the first time in school history when the Bulls match up against Seton Hall on Jan. 28 in Tampa. USF (12-7, 2-5) enters the game on a winning note after defeating Providence 109-105 in overtime on Jan. 23 in Rhode Island. Seton Hall (12-6, 3-4) comes into Tampa on a two-game winning streak after topping No. 9 Pittsburgh (Jan. 24) and Louisville (Jan. 21).

I recently did a Q&A with Ken from Astro's Bulls Blog which you can read here.

Ken's game preview:

The Hall will be led by the fantastic duo of Jeremy Hazell and Herb Pope. The 6′5 Hazell has been a terror on the hardwood this season. The Junior guard from Harlem, NY has averaged a Big East best 22.2 ppg for the Pirates this year. He can shoot from anywhere at anytime under any situation. Hazell is extremely quick to the basket, and uses his height and length to his advantage. Just watch this YouTube and you will see what I mean. Its ridiculous how good he is offensively.

Piratz of looks at Seton Hall's advantage in depth and quality of depth:

The Pirates not only have a substantial advantage in depth and quality of depth, but they’ve also been playing the type of team basketball that will wear out an opponent’s thin rotation: tenacious defense and ball movement. Combine that with the ability to pressure a turnover-prone team, and the advantages start lining up in the direction of Seton Hall. As far as match-ups are concerned, I think the question of how South Florida will contend with Herb Pope, Jeff Robinson, and Jeremy Hazell simultaneously is a bigger question than how The Hall will play against their best players.

An absolute must-win for the boys in blue and white from South Florida tonight.  As always, let's go Hall!