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Possible statement games await USF men, women this weekend

The Bulls women host No. 15 Texas on Friday, while the men host Boston College two days later.
USF guard Laquincy Rideau (3) drives to the basket against Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden during the second half at the Yuengling Center in Tampa on Tuesday. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
Published Nov. 7

Having dispatched their opening-night opposition with minimal strain, the USF men’s and women’s teams now turn their attention from pushovers to the Power Five.

Both have a chance to make significant national statements this weekend, starting Friday when the women host No. 15 Texas at 7 (can be viewed at this link). The men play host to Boston College on Sunday at noon (CBS Sports Network).

The women, whose daunting non-conference slate also features last season’s national champ (Baylor, Nov. 19) and runner-up (Notre Dame, Nov. 30), could sneak into the Associated Press top 25 with a triumph against the Longhorns.

MORE BULLS: Is USF football ready for prime time this time?

“You’re gonna be judged at the end of the year on…how successful you were wins and losses, how you did in your league, but also how you scheduled,” said Bulls coach Jose Fernandez, whose team received votes in the AP preseason poll. “And there’s never a question on how we approach that.”

The Longhorns, who open their regular season against the Bulls, return three starters from last season’s 23-10 club including 6-foot-3 senior Joyner Holmes (11.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg). They recently were picked to finish second in the Big 12 (behind Baylor) in a poll of league coaches.

The Boston College men opened their season with a 77-70 home triumph against ACC counterpart Wake Forest on Wednesday, one night after USF’s 70-41 victory against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

Point guard Derryck Thornton, a USC graduate transfer who started 20 games for Duke as a freshman four seasons ago, led the Eagles with 23 points, three steals and no turnovers in 34 minutes. Six-foot-11 senior Nik Popovic (14.5 ppg, 7.2 rpg last season) added 19.

“Great test for us and great evaluation tool, to see where we’re at,” said Bulls third-year coach Brian Gregory, still adjusting his playing rotations now that reigning American Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year Alexis Yetna (knee) has been lost for the season.

“Got thrown a curve ball a little bit, but now we need to respond to it. … We’re gonna be tested offensively in terms of seeing different defenses, and then really challenged on the defensive end."

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