GAME NOTES: On the final day of the South Florida Invitational the host Bulls will entertain the Western Michigan Broncos at USF Sun Dome Sunday afternoon.
The Broncos have enjoyed their first two games of the event with wins in both contests. First the Broncos bested Loyola-Chicago 81-71 on Friday and followed that with a 68-51 win over MD-Eastern Shore on Saturday. This season Western Michigan is 3-1. The Broncos will return home in their next two games, beginning with High Point a week from Thursday.
Just like Western Michigan, South Florida has wins in both of its games in the event this weekend. The Bulls opened with a 78-59 rout of MD-Eastern Shore and followed that up with a 68-50 beating of Loyola-Chicago on Saturday. The Bulls will leave the Sun Dome for the first time this season in their next matchup against Stetson.
This will be the first ever meeting between these two squads.
Western Michigan enjoyed a very successful offensive showing against MD- Eastern Shore on Saturday. The Broncos shot better than 50 percent from the floor in both halves and finished at a healthy 52.8 field goal percentage overall. The Broncos also held a 35-28 edge on the boards while holding the Hawks to 35.2 percent shooting. Four different players scored in double figures with Darius Paul and Shayne Whittington leading the way with 13 points a piece.
Having four players in double figures has been a common occurrence for Western Michigan. The top scorer is Nate Hutcheson (15.9 ppg, 5.0 rpg) who is also one of two players to be shooting better than 42 percent from beyond the arc (42.1 3P percentage). The other deep-threat is Brandon Pokley (42.9 3-point percentage). Pokley's shooting from 3-point range has not been his only contribution, as he is putting in 11 points per game, wile handing out a team- high 4.0 assists. Also in double figures on the season are Darius Paul (11.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg) and Shayne Whittington (11.3 ppg, 9.0 rpg). The frontcourt trio of Hutcheson, Paul and Whittington has been the focal point of the team's production on both ends of the floor early on with the team bringing nearly 10 rebounds more per game than its opponents.
Defense keyed South Florida's win over Loyola-Chicago on Saturday. The Bulls held the Ramblers to just 36.8 percent shooting and a season-low 50 points. The Bulls perimeter defense was particularly strong allowing just 6-of-21 3- point attempts. On the other end of the floor the Bulls shot at an even 50 percent clip, while Kore White led the team with 15 points off the bench.
The Bulls' defensive pressure was well documented last season and it seems that they are getting back to that level of success. South Florida is holding teams to a 39.6 field goal percentage thus far and has allowed fewer than 60 points in two of its three games. On offense, the Bulls are not a prolific unit but have a balanced attack. Jawanza Poland (12.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg) is the only player on the squad scoring in double figures but eight different players are putting in more than five points a contest. On the interior, Toartyn Fitzpatrick (9.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg) and Victor Rudd (9.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg) are adding some solid scoring numbers to their strong efforts on the boards. Point guard Anthony Collins (9.7 ppg) is the team's primary ball handler and best distributor with a team-high 19 assists thus far. No other player has more than six.
The battle on the interior will be where this game is won. Although Western Michigan has strength there the Bulls will be able to match up and clamp down on the Broncos.
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