Pre-AAC tournament game preview: Memphis

It seems strange not to be at Madison Square Garden in New York this week for conference tournament play.

Sadly, those Big East days are over.

No matter the location, UConn's mission remains the same: win a conference tournament title.

The Huskies begin their pursuit of a title tonight against host Memphis in American Athletic Conference Championship quarterfinal action at FedExForum.

"This will be a great challenge," coach Kevin Ollie said. "I'm looking forward to it, but Memphis is a great team. It's a big obstacle."

During the afternoon session today, Louisville and Houston both won and advanced to Friday's semifinals.

Louisville crushed Rutgers, 92-31, and Houston upset SMU, 68-64.

Here's a pre-game preview:

-- Tip-off: approximately 9:30 p.m. (ESPNU)

-- Records: No. 21 UConn 24-7, No. 19Memphis 23-8

-- Last game: UConn lost at Louisville, 81-48, Saturday; Memphis beat SMU, 67-58, Saturday

-- Probable starters:

UConn: 6-1 sr. guard Shabazz Napier (17.8 pts, 5.2 assists, 6.0 rebs), 6-0 jr. guard Ryan Boatright (12.0 pts), 6-6 grad. forward Lasan Kromah (7.0 pts, 3.1 rebs), 6-9 jr. forward DeAndre Daniels (12.3 pts, 5.6 rebs), 7-0 fr. center Amida Brimah (4.0 pts, 2.8 rebs, 2.4 blks)

Memphis: 6-1 sr. guard Joe Jackson (14.4 pts, 4.6 assists), 6-3 sr. guard Geron Johnson (9.0 pts, 4.9 rebs), 6-4 sr. guard Chris Crawford (8.9 pts, 4.0 rebs), 6-8 fr. forward Austin Nichols (9.3 pts. 4.3 rebs), 6-9 so. forward Shaq Goodwin (11.9 pts, 6.6 rebs)

Noteworthy:

-- UConn is the four seed, Memphis No. 5.

This is the first post-season game for Huskies since 2012.

-- The Huskies are 27-10 all-time in conference tourney play when seeded better than opponent.

-- In their last nine conference post-season tournaments, the Tigers are 24-2 with seven titles. They've won 15 straight at home.

-- Series: UConn leads 2-1, sweeping both regular season meetings, 83-73 at Memphis and 86-81 (OT) in Hartford. Napier averaged 25.5 points in those two games and Tigers scored half of their points in the paint.

The fact that the Huskies won both regular season games won't help them tonight, according to Ollie.

"The regular season is over with," Ollie said. "This is a whole new ball game. We're just trying to get one victory and just keep moving on to Friday."

-- UConn hasn't defeated a team three times in a season since sweeping Georgetown in 2004-05.

-- Top reserve: 6-1 sr. guard Michael Dixon Jr. (12.2 pts). Dixon won the AAC sixth man award.

-- Hot: Senior Niels Giffey is on pace to set school single season record for 3-point field goal percentage, shooting 50 percent. Cold: Huskies are averaging 56.8 pts and 36 percent from field in last five games.

-- The Tigers are 15-2 at home this season, winning nine straight since losing to UConn on Jan. 16.

-- Napier needs nine assists to pass Kevin Ollie and move into third on UConn career list and six points to take over sixth on scoring list. He needs six points to take over sixth on the all-time scoring list.

-- A loss tonight wouldn't knock either UConn or Memphis out of NCAA tournament contention.

Ollie wants his team to focus on the conference tournament and not seeding in the upcoming NCAA tournament.

"Let's take care of the tournament first," Ollie said. "Then we'll worry about (seeding) on Selection Sunday. But we've got to take care of this tournament. It's a great time of the year. I want these guys to understand that it expires, too."

-- Tonight's winner advances to Friday's semifinal, facing with the Cincinnati/Central Florida winner.

-- Check back later for a post-game breakdown and video.

-- For regular updates, follow me on Twitter @GavinKeefe

Reader Comments

MORE BLOGS

Post-game breakdown: Central Connecticut

As expected, UConn cruised to victory.

Pre-game preview: Central Connecticut

UConn is back in action today.

Post-game breakdown: Columbia

UConn coach Kevin Ollie saw it coming.He really did.

Pre-game preview: Columbia

UConn has only four non-conference games remaining this season.

Huskies spreading holiday cheer

The UConn basketball team will participate in Kevin Ollie's Christmas for Hartford's Children in the city's Blue Hills Neighborhood on Saturday.

Post-game breakdown: Duke

UConn's offense is in serious need of a tune-up.The Huskies sputttered their way to just 56 points on Thursday night at the Izod Center.

Pre-game preview: Duke

Tonight’s game pits the defending national champion against a serious national championship contender.UConn is a decisive underdog.

UConn-Duke connections

Let’s talk UConn-Duke connections.The Huskies (4-3) and undefeated Blue Devils (9-0) renew their rivalry Thursday night in East Rutherford, N.J.

Post-game breakdown: Coppin State

Not sure if Sunday afternoon’s shootout made UConn basketball fans feel better or worse about their Huskies.

Pre-game preview: Coppin State

UConn needs a bounce back game in a big way today.Coppin State hasn't beaten a Division I team so far this season.

Post-game breakdown: Yale

Coach Kevin Ollie delivered a blunt assessment of his basketball following a second straight last-second loss.Yale 45, UConn 44.

Pre-game preview: Yale

It seems like an eternity since UConn last lost to an in-state foe.You have to go back to 1986.

Boatright in a rush to return, and other UConn news

Senior Ryan Boatright is not 100 percent healthy.

Injury updates on Boatright, Purvis, Calhoun

UConn sent along some injury updates today.

Post-game breakdown, video: Texas

UConn saw its 44-game non-conference winning streak at Gampel Pavilion end in stunning fashion on Sunday.