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Vermont (2-5) at San Francisco (4-3)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Friday, November 29, 9 p.m. (ET)

FACTS & STATS: Site: War Memorial Gymnasium (5,300) -- San Francisco, California. Television: None. Home Record: Vermont 1-1, USF 3-2. Away Record: Vermont 0-4, USF 1-1. Neutral Record: Vermont 0-0, USF 0-0. Conference Record: Vermont 0-0, USF 0-0. Series Record: San Francisco leads, 1-0.

GAME NOTES: The Golden Gate Challenge continues on Friday night, as the host San Francisco Dons take on the Vermont Catamounts at War Memorial Gymnasium.

Prior to the tournament, Vermont's season had not started according to plan. After splitting two games at home to open the season -- a loss versus St. Joseph's (74-64) and a win over Siena (77-66) -- the Catamounts hit the road for a four-game road trip and lost each matchup, although one was an incredible performance in a 91-90 hard-fought loss at Duke on Nov. 24. They redeemed themselves in opening-round play by overcoming a big deficit to take down Illinois State, 87-76.

USF opened up its tournament experience with an impressive 96-73 victory over Sonoma State on Wednesday night. The triumph allowed the Dons to halt their recent slide of three losses in the previous four games, and they are back over .500 at 4-3. They haven't exactly been infallible at home however, as they have split their four games at War Memorial Gym.

The Dons won the only previous meeting between the squads, 77-73, back in December of 1991.

The Catamounts appeared down for the count early on in their opening-round matchup, as they trailed by 12 at the half and by 10 midway through the second stanza, but they caught fire down the stretch, ripping off a 33-11 run to take control of the game. After a modest 40 percent showing from the field in the first 20 minutes, they exploded after intermission to the tune of 65.5 percent shooting. Sandro Carissimo led the charge with 24 points on 6-of-7 from beyond the arc, while also adding five assists and five rebounds. Clancy Rugg (21 points) and Brian Voelkel (12 points, nine assists) were also stellar, while Hector Harold came off the bench to net 11 points.

Even with the impressive performance on Wednesday, Vermont is still in the red in regards to its scoring margin (-5.7), as its getting outshot from the field, 47 percent to 45.6 percent. Rugg is both the leading scorer (16.9 ppg), and he's been very active at the foul line (50-of-65). Carissimo is the only other player in double figure with 13.3 points per game, while Voelkel (6.4 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 6.7 apg) stuffs the stat sheet.

The Dons had very little issue dismissing Division II Sonoma State the last time out, as they shot 30-of-55 from the field and 30-of-42 from the free- throw line on their way to the convincing 23-point victory. Cole Dickerson was the catalyst, tallying a double-double with 23 points and 10 assists while shooting 8-of-10 from the field (including 2-of-2 from beyond the arc). Tim Derksen (19 points) was also nearly flawless from the floor at 7-of-8 shooting, while Matt Glover and Kruize Pinkins chipped in 16 and 12 points, respectively.

On the season, USF has been outstanding on the offensive end of the floor, as it ranks 19th in the nation in scoring with 88.4 points per game, doing so on 48.8 percent from the field and 38.1 percent from 3-point range. Kruize Pinkins leads the balanced attack with 14.6 points per game. Dickerson (13.3 ppg, 8.7 rpg) is a force to be reckoned with in the paint, and Mark Tollefsen (13.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg) has been solid down low as well. Cody Doolin (13.0 ppg, 7.0 apg) opted to leave the team after playing just four games due to personal reasons, and his role in the backcourt has been filled by Matt Glover (10.9 ppg, 3.3 apg).

Although USF has had its share of issues on the defensive end of the floor, which could allow the Catamounts to hang around, its shooting output has been off the charts in the early going, and it should be able to keep its momentum alive on its home floor.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: San Francisco 91, Vermont 86

11/29 10:50:09 ET

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