I just browsed through Vanderbilt's and South Florida's basketball game notes and thought I'd post some tidbits to get you ready for tonight's game.
DO I KNOW YOU?
You might remember a few faces when looking at the opposing bench tonight.
First, former Arkansas head coach Stan Heath is in his second year with the Bulls. In 2007, USF finished with a 12-19 record. Before arriving in Tampa, Heath guided the Razorbacks to two NCAA appearances in five years. He also led Kent State to a record-setting 2001-02 campaign which included an Elite Eight.
Also, junior guard transfer Mike Mercer made his USF debut Sunday with 12 points in a loss to Niagra. In two seasons at Georgia (2005-07), Mercer averaged 12.2 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 51 career games, which included 27 starts. He scored in double figures 34 times for the Bulldogs.
USF PLAYERS TO WATCH
Senior guard Jesus Verdejo leads USF in scoring at 17.6 ppg. He's scored 20 or more points in three games this year. He has connected on at least two 3-pointers in every game and is shooting 45 percent from long range.
Also, sophomore guard Dominique Jones averages 17 ppg and has scored 30+ points four times in his career, which ties him for second all-time at USF. Jones had arguably the best freshman season in Bulls history last year, earning All-BIG EAST Honorable Mention accolades and a unanimous selection on the BIG EAST All-Rookie Team after averaging a team high 17.1 ppg.
And keep an eye on Mercer and another transfer, Gus Gilchrist. The 6'10 freshman forward/center had eight points and six rebounds in his debut against Niagra Sunday. The Maryland transfer was one of the top-rated post players in the country coming out of high school in the 2007 class.
The Commodores are only allowing opponents to shoot 36.6% on the year, and only two opponents (VCU, UIC) have shot higher than 40% in a game. Vanderbilt has only allowed one opponent, UIC on December 3, to score 70 points or more (74). Five of Vanderbilt’s opponents have failed to crack the 35% mark from the floor.
With a victory tonight, Coach Stallings would reach the 300 victory mark in his 16-year head coaching career.