Bulls to open renovated Sun Dome against UCF
USF men's basketball will open the newly renovated Sun Dome on Nov. 10 against Central Florida, bringing in the Bulls' future Big East rivals for the first of two games in the 2012-13 season.
The Bulls will also travel to face UCF in Orlando on Jan. 2, likely the final nonconference game of the season. The Knights are joining the Big East next summer, and the home-and-home series should draw big crowds at both arenas. The Bulls played off-campus at three venues this past season while the Sun Dome underwent a $35 million renovation, completed last month. The opener will likely be part of a doubleheader with USF women's basketball team, which is still searching for an opponent for its opener.
USF is expected to unveil its full nonconference schedule later this week, but we've already reported the Bulls have a home game Nov. 30 against Georgia and a game at Oklahoma State on Dec. 5, as well as three home games as part of an exempt tournament the Bulls will host Nov. 16-18, against Western Michigan, Loyola (Chicago) and Maryland-Eastern Shore. That likely leaves six nonconference games to be announced.
With UCF on board, USF will have a solid chance to its first Sun Dome sellout since 2001, when the Bulls drew a capacity 10,444 for a game against Florida. Before that, the last sellout was in January 1992.
UCF went 22-11 last season, losing to Drexel in the opening round of the Postseason NIT. The team returns four starters, led by senior forward Keith Clanton (14.5 ppg) and guard Marcus Jordan (13.7), along with junior guard Isaiah Sykes (12.3 ppg) and senior center Josh Crittle (4.7 ppg).
The Bulls and Knights last played in November 2010, with UCF getting a 65-59 win in Orlando. The Bulls won 69-65 in Tampa in 2009, with the home teams winning in meetings in 2007 and 2008 as well. USF holds a 19-6 advantage in the overall series, including nine wins in a row before UCF's win in 2008.
USF hasn't scheduled a nonconference opponent twice in the same season since 1994, when the Bulls played Jacksonville and Baylor twice. In 1993-94, the Bulls faced Florida in Gainesville and St. Petersburg, as well as Stetson in Tampa and Orlando. Other home-and-home series include USF playing UCF twice in the 1992-93 season, playing Miami twice a year for four consecutive seasons from 1987-88 to 1990-91, and with Florida State in five seasons in the 1970s.