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),


--  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.



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