Ahead of a Sunday evening clash with Georgia that has postseason implications, Seton Hall will look to register their first road win of the season in Tampa against South Florida on Thursday night.
First year head coach Orlando Antigua and former Seton Hall assistant Oliver Antigua have the Bulls at 5-4 and will be keen to break a three-game losing streak suffered against the likes of Alabama, Detroit, and Georgia Southern. Antigua benched his five starters for the opening minutes of the second half against Georgia Southern due to lack of effort and has a battle on his hands with a patchwork roster.
Seton Hall (8-1) is aiming to finish their non-conference schedule with wins against South Florida and Maine at the very least. Getting a road win prior to playing at Georgia would work toward boosting the Pirates' confidence on an away court. The Pirates are 10-2 all time against USF but are just 2-2 at the Sun Dome including a pair of heart-breaking losses by a combined three points in their last two trips.
The Hall dropped an overtime game 76-74 in 2010 when Herb Pope missed a late game-tying free throw and Robert Mitchell dribbled the ball off his shin in a half court heave situation. South Florida notched an upset in 2012, infamously giving Seton Hall a six-game losing streak after entering the top 25 for the first time in years. Jordan Theodore missed the front end of a one-and-one with Seton Hall trailing by a point and seconds remaining in that game.
Scouting South Florida:
As highlighted this off-season in our preview series, Antigua's USF Bulls are coping with massive roster turnover from former coach Stan Heath's team a season ago. Only three players who saw action in games last year are back and one of the three received a medical redshirt for missing time last season.
South Florida has struggled to improve on their nation-worst (25.8%) outside shooting from a year ago and as a result are 314th in 3PA/FGA, 326th in percentage of points coming from three, and 255th in three-point percentage; USF has shot 7 of 39 (18%) over its last two games. Guards Corey Allen Jr. (15-34, 44%) and Nehemias Morillo (13-36, 36%) are the only two Bulls to keep tabs on from long range.
Turnovers have also hurt Orlando Antigua's team. USF is 297th in turnover percentage and have coughed the rock up 18 times per game over their three-game losing streak. Anthony Collins (8.3 ppg, 6.2 apg) is coming off a medical redshirt year and plays a pass-first point guard role with most half court sets going through him. Collins' assist to turnover ratio has been 12:9 over the past three games compared to 27:6 during the three prior.
Anthony Collins doesn't do the heavy lifting in the scoring column, but he helps set up guards who do in Corey Allen Jr. and Nehemias Morillo. A senior, Allen Jr. has scored in double figures every game except two, including 29 points against Jacksonville and 26 points at Detroit. Like Allen, Morillo is also at South Florida by way of the junior college ranks, where he was a deadly threat from three-point land for Monroe College, the same school as Stephane Manga. The junior has lived up to his billing and has scored no less than nine points in any game this season while drilling a three-pointer in every game but two. Freshman Troy Holston (4.5 ppg) sees minutes behind Allen and Morillo as the first guard off Antigua's bench.
Sophomore forward Chris Perry (13 ppg, 7 rpg) joins Allen Jr. and Collins as the third returning player from 2013-14. Perry has been helped out by 6-foot-11 freshman and Spanish international Ruben Guerrero (4.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg) in a young frontcourt that lost Victor Rudd and John Egbunu (transfer) this off-season. 6-foot-6 redshirt freshman Bo Zeigler (5.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg) has a high motor and has contributed minutes as an undersized four while junior college center Jaleel Cousins (3.6 ppg, 1.9 rpg) has seen reserve minutes at center. Still very unpolished at center, Cousins is the younger brother of Demarcus Cousins and was reportedly offered by Seton Hall as a freshman out of high school (2012).
Unlike past teams under Stan Heath, South Florida has tried to play at a faster tempo so far under Orlando Antigua. While this may play right into Seton Hall's hands, especially among their guards, it will be an attempt to keep the Bulls away from their weak half court offense. Georgia Southern switched to a zone defense midway through their win over USF and the Bulls' poor ball movement was exposed as a result; expect Kevin Willard to mix in some different defensive looks.
USF averages around 3,000 in paid attendance per game and Thursday's contest will be during winter break, so don't expect much of a home court advantage. The atmosphere will be closer to the Paradise Jam than Wichita State's Roundhouse, and should play a tune up role of sorts before the Hall takes on Georgia in Athens.
Three things to watch for:
Interior battle. As a result of their poor three-point numbers, South Florida is fifth in the country in percentage of total points coming from within the arc and 19th in two-point percentage. USF has size between 6-foot-11 Ruben Guerrero and 6-foot-8 Chris Perry, but not a ton of experience. Guerrero won't be a back to the basket threat, but Perry is if USF can find him on the low block. Perry will likely be guarded by Angel Delgado in a smaller lineup, who will receive help defense from Desi Rodriguez or a guard. Don't forget that 7-foot-1 Chier Ajou is now eligible to bolster Seton Hall's frontcourt too. If USF can attack the basket in transition or establish any rhythm from three, that will open up the paint for them.
The turnover battle. For a team that struggles in the half court, every possession counts. South Florida is -12 in turnover margin during their four losses and -2 over their five wins (-8 in OT win over UAB). Seton Hall has been pretty safe with the rock this season and has a +11 turnover margin outside of the Wichita State game (-6).
If USF tries to play a faster tempo, Corey Allen Jr. and Anthony Collins will be hounded by Sterling Gibbs, Isaiah Whitehead, and Khadeen Carrington. Allen Jr. shifting to point guard is the only significant cover that Collins has received as floor general and is fairly turnover prone. Seton Hall will likely try to wear down Collins and force the issue much like they did with Myles Mack and Desi Washington recently.
Offensive approach. Seton Hall won't have to battle a loud homecourt environment, but it will be interesting to see how the half court offense looks on the road after Wichita State. The big stage may have made the team (save Isaiah Whitehead) play like deer in the headlights on offense early on, let's see how they rebound against a more a manageable South Florida.
Series history (SHU 10-2):
March 12, 2013, SETON HALL 46, USF 42 (ot), New York, N.Y.
Jan. 23, 2013, SETON HALL 55, USF 47, Newark, N.J.
Jan. 13, 2012, USF 56, SETON HALL 55, Tampa, Fla.
Dec. 28, 2010, SETON HALL 64, USF 55, Newark, N.J.
Jan. 29, 2010, USF 76, SETON HALL 74 (ot), Tampa, Fla.
March 10, 2009, SETON HALL 68, USF 54, New York, N.Y.
Feb. 25, 2009, SETON HALL 75, USF 60, Newark, N.J.
Feb. 26, 2008, SETON HALL 79, USF 75, Tampa, Fla.
Jan. 17, 2008, SETON HALL 74, USF 64, Newark, N.J.
Feb. 24, 2007, SETON HALL 89, USF 76, East Rutherford, N.J.
Feb. 8, 2006, SETON HALL 70, USF 65, Tampa, Fla.
Jan. 20, 2006, SETON HALL 94, USF 89 (ot), East Rutherford, N.J.
KenPom says: No. 44 Seton Hall 72, No. 174 South Florida 67 (70%)
Projected USF starters:
PG - Anthony Collins
SG - Corey Allen Jr.
G/F - Nehemias Morillo
PF - Chris Perry
C - Ruben Guerrero
Time: 7pm ET
TV: CBS Sports Network
Radio: 970 AM
Opening line: Seton Hall (-4)