Bulls Host UCF Saturday in Autism Awareness Game

Matchup: USF (9-12, 2-6) vs. UCF (11-9, 2-6)
Date: 
Saturday, Feb. 1
Time:
 4 p.m. (EST)
Location: 
Tampa, Fla. | Yuengling Center
TV: 
ESPNU (Anish Shroff, Mark Wise)
Radio: 
Bulls Unlimited (Jim Lighthall, Joey Johnston)

TAMPA, FLA., JAN. 31, 2020 – The USF men’s basketball team opens the month of February on Saturday at 4 p.m. when the Bulls welcome in-state rival UCF to the Yuengling Center for the second round of the War on I4 and the program’s Autism Awareness Game.

The Coaches Powering Forward for Autism initiative was created in 2014 by USF assistant coach Tom Herrion and Towson head coach Pat Skerry. The duo founded the project to help raise awareness about autism, which affects an estimated 1 in 59 children in the United States today and more than 70 million people worldwide. 

Inspired by their sons, both diagnosed with autism, Herrion and Skerry made a simple request to fellow coaches – wear the Autism Speaks blue puzzle piece pin during the televised February weekend games.  In an overwhelming response, more than 82 NCAA coaches and broadcasters took to the sidelines and airwaves throughout that weekend in 2014, wearing the puzzle pin. By 2018, the support soared to 375 NCAA coaches wearing the pins and more than 420 schools showing their support of people with autism.

The 2020 goal is to continue to grow this initiative to include all Division I programs, along with other divisions and provide basketball coaches, their teams and schools with an even greater opportunity to increase global understanding and acceptance of people with autism.

USF (9-12, 2-6) returning to its winning ways on Wednesday with a 66-52 victory at Tulane behind 14 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three steals from junior guard David Collins (Youngstown, Ohio). Collins leads the USF offense with 14.2 points per game and needs 17 more points to move into 15th place on the school’s all-time scoring list. Collins also stands 60th in the NCAA with 1.9 steals per game and is second on the team with 37 assists.

Redshirt senior guard Laquincy Rideau (West Palm Beach, Fla.) also scored 14 points to go along with three assists against the Green Wave. Rideau adds 11.9 points per game and is second in the league and 17th in the nation with 2.4 steals per game. 

Redshirt freshman Madut Akec (Bradenton, Fla.) made his first career start on Wednesday and finished with his best night in a USF uniform with a career-high 10 points, eight rebounds and three assists. His performance on the glass helped the Bulls hold a 40-19 rebounding edge. 

THE OPPONENT
UCF (11-9, 2-6) lost its second straight game after dropping a 59-57 decision to Memphis on Wednesday to fall into a tie for last place in the league standings. In addition, UCF has lost seven of its last nine games and is 1-3 on the road in conference play.

Junior forward Colin Smith stands as the top scorer for UCF with 12.7 points per game to go along with 6.4 rebounds per game. Junior guard Ceasar DeJesus adds 11.1 points per game and shoots 50.9 percent from the field, while senior Dazon Ingram leads the team with 7.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game. 

QUOTABLE
USF Head Coach Brian Gregory on the matchup with UCF:
“It’s interesting how the schedule works out. We’ve each only played two games since the first meeting, so not a lot of changes in either team. I thought it was a really good college basketball game the first time we played. Both teams defended really well, but at the end they made a couple of big plays, so give them credit for that. I think over the last two weeks we’ve tightened up some things, and I think we’re a better team. Now you need to go out there and execute your offensive and defensive game plan for 40 minutes. It’s a game that means a lot to us and we need to go out there and play that way, and I thought we did that in game one. I think we’re gonna have a great crowd, but we have to go out there and play well to be successful.”

NOTABLE
• USF is 22-18 against UCF in the all-time series that dates back to the 1971-72 season. 
• David Collins has made more career free throws than any other player in American Athletic Conference history. 
• USF head coach Brian Gregory is nine wins away from 300 career victories. 
• USF ranks 45th in the NCAA with 8.1 steals per game and has at least eight in 13 of 21 games this season.
• David Collins has made 375 career free throws and ranks third all-time in school history.
• USF ranks 35th in the NCAA in turnovers forced with 16.2 per game.
• Laquincy Rideau ranks 17th in the NCAA with 2.4 steals per game.   
• USF is 15-4 since the start of last season when Justin Brown scores in double figures. 
• USF ranks 24th in the NCAA in scoring defense by allowing just 61.8 points per game. 
• USF has held 19 of its 21 opponents under their season scoring average.  
• David Collins ranks 16th all-time at USF in scoring with 1,139 career points. 
• Justin Brown has made the ninth-most career three-pointers in school history with 133.

About USF Men’s Basketball
The USF men’s basketball team is led by head coach Brian Gregory. On March 22, 2017, Gregory was introduced as the 10th head coach in program history. He previously led programs at Georgia Tech (2011-16) and Dayton (2003-11). Gregory spent nearly a decade as an assistant coach under Michigan State’s Hall of Fame head coach Tom Izzo and helped the Spartans win the 2000 NCAA National Championship. Gregory owns nearly 300 career head coaching wins and six postseason appearances, including the 2010 NIT Championship. In his second season at the helm of the Bulls, Gregory led the team to the best win turnaround in the NCAA, the most single-season wins in school history and the 2019 College Basketball Invitational championship. 

USF has retired three numbers in its 47-year history: Chucky Atkins (12), Charlie Bradley (30) and Radenko Dobras (31). The Bulls have earned three NCAA tournament bids, appeared in the NIT eight times and won the 2019 College Basketball Invitational.

To stay up-to-date on the latest USF men’s’ basketball news, follow the Bulls on social media (Twitter | Facebook | Instagram).

For tickets, contact the USF Ticket Office at 1-800-Go-Bulls or by going online to USFBullsTix.com.

– #GoBulls –

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