No fans will be in attendance when the South Florida men's basketball team takes the court on Wednesday against Florida College, but a few Bulls will be looking to make an impression.
Returning to action for USF coach Brian Gregory's team is strong rebounder Alexis Yetna, who didn't play at all last season due to an ACL injury.
A 6-foot-8, 234-pound junior forward from France, Yetna was the American Athletic Conference freshman of the year in 2018-19, when he averaged 12.3 points and 9.6 rebounds a game.
The Bulls, who went 14-17 last season, also expect to get contributions from two key newcomers -- 6-foot-8 junior forward Prince Oduro, who transferred from Mississippi State (after transferring from Siena), and freshman guard Caleb Murphy, a four-star talent from Georgia.
"The best thing for Caleb Murphy is that he's surrounded on the perimeter with veteran players, so although we need him to make an impact for us, it's not like he's doing that on his own," Gregory said.
In his fourth season, Gregory wanted his team to open at home, and facing the Falcons -- an NAIA school located in the Tampa suburb of Temple Terrace -- made perfect sense.
"We felt it was important to open the season with a home game before going on the road for a week to play in Connecticut," said Gregory, whose team will face Rhode Island and Virginia Tech this weekend in Uncasville, Conn.
USF beat Florida College, 95-54, in the teams' only previous meeting, on Feb. 19, 2019.
Florida College (5-3) is coming off its best performance so far, a 118-72 thrashing of Trinity Baptist College on Saturday.
Coach Chase Teichmann's squad put on its best offensive showing by shooting 60.3 percent from the field and connecting on 17 three-pointers in winning for the third time in four games.
Guard Matt Simpson, a junior from nearby Plant City, pumped in a season-high 36 points, shooting 11-for-15 from the floor (including three-of-four 3-point attempts) and sinking all 11 of his free throws.
It was an impressive shooting display from the Falcons, who made 17 of their 35 attempts from beyond the arc, and 19 of 23 free-throw attempts. Eleven players scored, with five in double figures.
"Today was an encouraging performance," Teichmann said. "It was good to see guys get excited for the success of others."
--Field Level Media