Pre-game preview: Memphis

 

Here's a pre-game preview of UConn's American Athletic Conference game at No. 17 Memphis tonight at FedExForum:

Tip-off time: 7 p.m. (ESPN)

Records: UConn 13-3, 1-2; Memphis 12-3, 3-1

Last game: UConn beat Central Florida, 84-61, Saturday; Memphis won at Temple, 79-69, Saturday

Probable starters:

UConn, 6-0 jr. guard Ryan Boatright (12.8 pts, 3.6 assists), 6-1 sr. guard Shabazz Napier (16.0 pts, 6.0 assists, 6.4 rebs), 6-8 jr. forward DeAndre Daniels (12.8 pts, 4.9 rebs), 6-6 grad. forward Lasan Kromah (6.6 pts, 2.6 rebs), 6-10 sr. forward Tyler Olander (2.3 pts, 1.4 rebs)

Memphis, 6-1 sr. guard Joe Jackson (14.7 pts, 3.9 assists), 6-3 sr. guard Geron Johnson (8.5 pts, 5.5 rebs), 6-4 sr. guard Chris Crawford (9.0 pts, 4.3 rebs), 6-8 fr. forward Austin Nichols (8.6 pts, 4.2 rebs), 6-9 so. forward Shaq Goodwin (13.2 pts, 7.1 rebs),

 Noteworthy:

--  This is an important week for Huskies, who host No. 18 Louisville Saturday after visiting Memphis.

-- The Tigers have won five of last six.

-- The game pits two of the country's top backcourts.

-- Series: UConn lost only previous meeting, 81-70, in 2k Sports College Hoops Classic Championship at MSG in 2007.

-- Common foe: Florida (UConn won 65-64,Memphis lost 77-75).

-- Jackson was an unanimous preseason AAC first team pick.

-- Top reserve: 6-1 sr. guard Michael Dixon Jr. (11.3 pts, 2.3 rebs).

-- Hot: Napier is shooting 92 percent (35-for-38) from foul line in last five games. Cold: Kromah has converted 34 percent (13-for-38) from the field in last five games.

-- FedEx Forum (18,400) will host the inaugural AAC tourney in March.

-- The Tigers have won at least 20 wins in 11 straight seasons.

-- UConn is 1-2 in true road games this season, beating Washington and losing to Houston and SMU.

 -- Both Memphis coach Josh Pastner and UConn’s Kevin Ollie own national championship rings. Pastner earned his prize as a player at Arizona in 1997 and Ollie got his ring as an assistant on the 2011 national title team.

 -- The Tigers are tough to beat at FedExForum, posting a 168-19 record there since it opened in 2004.

-- The Huskies are 1-0 versus ranked teams this season, beating then No. 15 Florida, 65-64, on Dec. 2.

 -- UConn is a much better 3-point shooting team than Memphis, converting 41.4 percent compared to just 29.3 for the Tigers. The Huskies are ninth in the country in that area.

-- The Tigers are an unselfish team, averaging a league-best 16.6 assists per game.

“We’ve got three guys last year who had over 100 assists,” Pastner said. “Our whole motto is the open man is the go-to-man. … You’re only as good as your guards are. We have good guards.”

 -- Sophomore Shaq Goodwin, a 6-foot-9, 240-pound forward, has been an inside force in recent games for Memphis. He had a career high 23 points and a season-best 11 rebounds in Saturday’s win at Temple. It was his second double-double this season.

 -- Here’s what Pastner said about UConn and Ollie during AAC media day last fall:

“UConn is a legendary program with coach (Jim) Calhoun and what coach Ollie has done, it’s just amazing. He’s going to be a future Hall of Fame. If I was UConn, I’d sign him to a 25-year deal because when one of those blue blood (coaching jobs) opens up, they’re going to come after Kevin Ollie, or the NBA is going to come after Kevin Ollie.

“He’s one of the best up and coming coaches in the games.”

 -- For one of the few times all season, UConn had a balanced attack in Saturday’s win over Central Florida.

The Huskies will look to continue to develop their inside game.

“It’s very important to have balance, especially in the two games we have coming up,” Ollie said. "Memphis and Louisville, they’re going to do a great job trying to take care of our first and second options. We want those guys to still be aggressive and attack but we want our shooters to be ready.

"And when you have an inside presence, it makes life a lot easier.”

-- It will be a quick turnaround for UConn, which hosts Louisville on Saturday. Louisville also is playing tonight, hosting Houston.

 

 

Reader Comments

MORE BLOGS

Post-game breakdown: SMU

  The Huskies secured a signature victory that they so desperately needed.

Pre-game preview: SMU

  UConn has never beaten Southern Methodist University.

Hamilton announces his retirement

  Former UConn great Richard "Rip" Hamilton announced his retirement today.

Pre-game preview: East Carolina

  The regular season is winding down.  

Post-game breakdown: Tulane

  UConn took a difficult route to victory on Sunday.  So it was a typical win for the Huskies, who held off Tulane, 67-60, at Gampel Pavilion.

Pre-game preview: Tulane

  It's hard to believe the regular season is already winding down.

Boatright, Dunn finalists for Bob Cousy award

  UConn senior Ryan Boatright and Providence sophomore Kris Dunn are two of 17 finalists for the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award in college basketball.

Post-game breakdown: Memphis

  Freshman Daniel Hamilton is a rising star.  The latest evidence came in UConn's 75-72 loss at Memphis on Thursday night.

Pre-game preview: Memphis

UConn and Memphis meet twice over the final few weeks of the regular season.

Post-game breakdown: Tulsa

 UConn played its most complete game this season on Thursday night. Its near perfect performance couldn’t have come at a better time.

Pre-game preview: Tulsa

UConn begins a make-or-break stretch tonight.The Huskies host Tulsa, the American Athletic Conference leader, at the XL Center.

Calhoun pays tribute to Dean Smith

 UConn released a statement late Sunday from Jim Calhoun on the passing of fellow Hall of Fame coach Dean Smith, the North Carolina legend.

Pre-game preview: Tulane

  Here’s a revealing statistic:  UConn is 7-1 when Rodney Purvis scores in double figures.

Post-game breakdown: East Carolina

  UConn played about 13 minutes of nearly perfect basketball on Wednesday night.

Pre-game preview: East Carolina

  UConn has never lost more than two games in a season at Gampel Pavilion since the building opened in 1989.  That streak is in jeopardy.