#7 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (20-4, 9-3 Big East) will next face the South Florida Bulls (8-17, 2-10 Big East) Saturday, February 12th at the USF Sun Dome at 12 PM EST. The Fighting Irish downed the #15 Louisville Cardinals in overtime 89-79 earlier this week. On Wednesday The Bulls lost a squeaker to the Marquette Golden Eagles 59-58.
The Fighting Irish look for their tenth win in the Big East and to extend its overall win streak to seven games. This Notre Dame squad has reached 20 wins faster than any other team in Fighting Irish history. South Florida in contrast find themselves in a downward spiral. The Bulls have lost three straight games and 12 of its last 14.
Again G Ben Hansborough led all Notre Dame scorers with 25 points in Wednesday’s win. He shot 5-from-10 behind the arc. F Tim Abromaitis broke out of his funk to contribute 23 points and was perfect from the line going 9-for-9. F Jack Cooley came off the bench and added 10 points. F Carleton Scott may have been the MVP of the game, carrying his team to a win in overtime. Scott scored 9 of his sixteen points in extra time. Notre Dame got to the charity stripe 28 times compared Louisville’s 11. The Fighting Irish win when they win the battle of free throw attempts.
Ben Hansborough continues his stand out Notre Dame’s leader, averaging 16.9 points and 4 assists each game along with shooting 42% from the three-point line. His partner in offense, Tim Abromaitis, notches 14 points a game and 6.5 rebounds. The rest of the stellar cast includes Scott (11.8 PPG, 6.7 RPG) and G Scott Martin (10.1 PPG). The team is very steady handed ranked second in the Big East in ball control.
Against Marquette on Wednesday USF blew a 16-point lead in the last 12 minutes making just three field goals. The pressure defense proved too much for the Bulls who committed 18 turnovers. South Florida needs to slow the game down. Currently the team is ranked 327th at 62.6 possessions per game. Notre Dame also plays a slow paced game ranked 281st in the same category. USF has also been held to 58 or less points 8 times this season all culminating in losses. USF leader F Albert Gilchrist finished the contest with 11 points.
Gilchrist is averaging 12.3 points per game and 6.6 assists this season for the Bulls. G Jawanza Poland has come on strong of recent, scoring in double figures in six of previous seven games.
I predict a seventh straight win here for the Irish. They will prove to be too strong and athletic for the Bulls. The Irish will also stifle the Bulls on defense. USF will have no answer for Hansborough and are too mistake prone.
Notre Dame 79 South Florida 51