Photo Courtesy: UCF Athletics
By John Weis (’94)
Next UCF Opponent: USF Bulls (11-16, 4-10 AAC)
2021-2022 Record: 8-23 (3-15 AAC)
Coach: Brian Gregory (19th Season, 324-285 Overall; 6th Season at USF, 76-105)
Last Game: 2/18/23 Home vs Tulane (L, 84-66)
Opening Tip: 2/22/23 7:00pm, Addition Financial Arena, Orlando (TV: ESPNU)
Opponent at a Glance
I could have kept this first paragraph largely the same as it was in my Cincinnati preview. Last-second, deflating loss. Damage to postseason hopes, and so on. Once again, the Knights need to bounce back quickly if they expect to beat their bovine rivals in what could be the last meeting between the teams – though it would be much easier to fit them in on a basketball schedule than in football going forward.
Anyone in the mood for a good steak right about now? Asking for a friend.
Leading the charge for the Bulls is 5’9” Senior Tyler Harris (16.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 3.6 apg) who played at Memphis last year – and Iowa State the year before that. After him comes the big man inside, seven-foot Junior Russel Tchewa (11.5 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 61% FG).
The third-leading scorer is also a transfer player, 6’4” Sophomore and former Kansas State Wildcat Selton Miguel (10.6 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 3.3 apg). Senior 6’6” Keyshawn Bryant, a Winter Haven High School product, averages 9.4 points and 4.8 rebounds per game.
6’5” Junior Jamir Chaplin (7.5 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.1 apg); 6’6” Sophomore Sam Hines Jr. (6.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.3 apg); 6’4” Freshman Ryan Conwell (5.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 2.0 apg); 6’4” Senior Serrel Smith Jr. (4.0 ppg, 0.8 rpg); and 6’8” Sophomore Corey Walker Jr. (3.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg) are also contributors. Conwell actually led the team in scoring in their last game versus Tulane, netting 20.
Plain and simple, this is a revenge game. In their first meeting of the season on January 21, the Knights hit what was arguably their low point of the season, losing 85-72 to a Bulls team that had been an embarrassment up to that point. Though they have improved a bit since the last time the two teams met, this is certainly a game the Knights should win.
So far this season, USF is averaging 73.0 points per game while giving up 72.7. In conference play, they are scoring 75.9 but give up 78.6.
The ESPN matchup predictor gives the Knights an 88.5% chance to win.
This may likely come as a surprise to some, but USF actually leads the all-time series 26-21. USF won 18 of the first 22 meetings, but the Knights have captured 12 of the last 16 despite January’s loss – including two of the three last year (the third game was a UCF win in the first round of the AAC Tournament).
Please take note of the channel airing the game, ESPNU; and the game time, 7:00.
Just how pedestrian has the USF men’s basketball program been in recent history, you ask? Lucky for you, I have a lot of time on my hands and a calculator … and I’ve done the math. Dating back to the 2003-2004 season and continuing through to the end of this past season (so not including this year), the Bulls have gone 225-365. That’s a 38.1% overall winning percentage. Those of you who’ve complained about Kirk Speraw, Donnie Jones and Johnny Dawkins over the years should pause and give thanks that you are not a Bulls fan.
In the last USF preview, I told you about former Bull Chucky Atkins, who had a lengthy and relatively successful NBA career. The USF player with the second-longest NBA career was Eustis-born 6’10” center Solomon Jones, who played for six teams in eight seasons (including a brief stint with the Orlando Magic in 2013-2014), averaging 3 points and 2.3 rebounds over that span. Chosen in round two of the 2006 NBA Draft by the Atlanta Hawks, the Mount Dora High School grad was one of the rare second-round draft picks to find a lasting spot in the league. He also played abroad for such teams as the Lianoning Flying Leopards of the Chinese Basketball Association, the Dongguan Snow Wolf of the Chinese National Basketball League, and the Tijuana Zonkeys of Mexico.
John Weis is a freelance Writing/PR professional. His company, Weis Words (www.weiswords.biz) serves national clients such as advertising agencies, public relations firms and sports organizations, as well as small businesses and private individuals. A native Central Floridian and basketball enthusiast, he spent six seasons as Broadcast Coordinator for the Orlando Magic Radio Network early in his career. He graduated from UCF in 1994 with a degree in Communications and can’t wait for the Knights to move to the Big XII.