Marquette-South Florida Preview
By TAYLOR BECHTOLD
(AP) -- As good as Marquette has been at home, it hasn't been able to match that success on the road.
That may change for the 24th-ranked Golden Eagles on Wednesday night when they visit South Florida, which has struggled in Big East play regardless of the venue.
Playing 10 of its previous 14 games in Milwaukee, Marquette (15-5, 6-2) took advantage of the home-heavy portion of its schedule and stood alone atop the conference standings before a 70-51 loss at then-No. 12 Louisville on Sunday.
Syracuse beat Notre Dame one day later to drop the Golden Eagles a half-game out of first.
"We had a great opportunity in front of us," senior guard Trent Lockett said. "Unfortunately, Louisville flat-out beat us. There are no excuses."
While the Golden Eagles are 12-0 at home, they lost for the fourth time in five road games. Their only road victory this season is an overtime win at Pittsburgh on Jan. 12.
Marquette has had trouble scoring on the road, averaging 53.4 points in regulation. The Golden Eagles, meanwhile, have scored 71.8 per game at home.
With four of their next six on the road, they're hoping to end those woes against a South Florida team they've beaten 11 of the last 12 meetings.
Marquette's visits to Tampa have hardly been easy, though. The Golden Eagles are 4-1 there since 2000, but four of those contests were decided by two points or less.
The most recent meeting came in Milwaukee just last week, when Vander Blue had a career-high 30 points on 13-of-20 shooting to lead the Golden Eagles to a 63-50 win.
"In the last game, they really hurt us in transition and Vander Blue just had a fantastic game," South Florida coach Stan Heath told the school's official website. "We need to do a much better job of stopping some of those key players."
Blue, the team's leading scorer (14.9 ppg), followed with 17 against the Cardinals.
Lockett figures to be another key player after reaching double figures for a third straight game with a season-high 16 points on Sunday.
Marquette may look to attack the basket after shooting 25 of 34 (73.5 percent) inside the arc while hitting just 2 of 15 from 3-point range in the first meeting.
Despite losing its fourth straight on Sunday, South Florida (10-11, 1-8) played much better on the defensive end in a 69-64 overtime loss at Connecticut.
After allowing opponents to shoot 54.0 percent from the floor in their previous three games, the Bulls limited the Huskies to just 29.8 percent.
Senior forward Toarlyn Fitzpatrick was another bright spot against Connecticut, finishing with season highs of 22 points and 10 rebounds.
The senior forward had three points at Marquette, but had averaged 17.5 points in his prior two in the series.
Freshman guard Javontae Hawkins led the Bulls with 14 points against the Golden Eagles. He's reached double figures in four of his last six, shooting 53.3 percent over that span.
Aside from Hawkins (6 of 9), the Bulls couldn't hit anything in Milwaukee. The other eight South Florida players to see action went 9 of 46 (19.6 percent) from the field.
South Florida ranks last in the Big East in scoring (61.3) and field-goal percentage (40.2).
Updated February 5, 2013