Scouting Memphis

News, notes and quotes on No. 4 KU's matchup tonight against No. 14 Memphis in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York at 6:00 (CT).

The game is the first of a doubleheader with Michigan State and Syracuse playing afterwards. KU-Memphis will be televised on ESPN and ESPN 3D with Dan Schulman, Jay Bilas and Doris Burke calling the game for ESPN and Mark Jones and Bob Valvano calling the ESPN 3D game.

The Jimmy V Classic raises funds and awareness for cancer research and is named after the late Jim Valvano.

Kansas (7-0) is coming off a thrilling 77-76 victory over UCLA at Allen Fieldhouse on Thursday, where the Jayhawks won despite shooting just 16 of 30 at the free-throw line and being outrebounded, 37-32.

SCOUTING MEMPHIS

Memphis returns six letterwinners and two starters off last season's team, which went 24-10 and 13-3 in Conference USA. The Tigers (7-0) are coming off a 77-61 victory over Western Kentucky at home last Saturday.

Memphis is led by junior swingman Wesley Witherspoon, who averages a team-high 13.7 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. Freshman guard Joe Jackson is next in scoring (12.1 ppg, team-high 30 assists), followed by freshman guard Will Barton (11.9 ppg), freshman guard Chris Crawford (8.0 ppg, team-best 12 three-pointers), junior guard Charles Carmouche (7.6 ppg, team-high 15 steals), freshman guard Antonio Barton (7.4 ppg), junior forward Angel Garcia (7.0 ppg), freshman forward Tarik Black (6.9 ppg) and senior forward Will Coleman (5.6 ppg).

The Tigers are averaging 85.3 points per game and allowing 65.7. They shoot 47.1 percent from the field, 33.3 percent from three-point range, and 72.8 percent at the free-throw line. Memphis holds foes to 36.9 percent shooting and 28.5 percent from beyond the arc, while outrebounding opponents 38.3 to 36.1 boards per game.

The Tigers also force 18.4 turnovers per game, while averaging 11 steals and 5.9 blocked shots per contest. They are a deep team with 10 players averaging at least 12.7 minutes per game. Witherspoon leads the team in minutes with just 26.9 per contest.

Josh Pastner is in his second season as a head coach (both at Memphis) with a 31-10 record.

CONFIDENT TIGERS

Memphis boasts one of the best freshman classes in the country. And they are a confident bunch with high expectations.

"We're going to win the national championship this year, I'm guaranteeing it," ace freshman Will Barton told the Memphis Commercial Appeal in preseason.

Pastner commented about the strengths and weaknesses of his club during an online espn.com chat session last Thursday.

"The greatest strength is that we have good guys on our team and I love being around them," Pastner wrote. "Our weakness is that we are a very young team and we show our immaturity on the court at times."

"BIG-TIME GAME"

Pastner knows tonight's game will put both teams in the national spotlight.

"(It's) going to be a big-time game in a big-time atmosphere," he said. "Bottom line is, as I told our guys, this is just another game on our schedule and we are not getting too high with the highs or too low with the lows. We are preparing for this game the way we prepare for every game, whether it is Christian Brothers or Lemoyne-Owen or Western Kentucky or Miami. We are preparing the same way for Kansas. We aren't making this game bigger than any other game. We are 7-0 and that is the bottom line."

Pastner has even greater perspective on tonight's battle in the Jimmy V Classic.

"Above all, it's about raising money for cancer research," he wrote in his chat session. "To make as much awareness about cancer as we can."

KU-MEMPHIS SERIES

Kansas lead the all-time series with Memphis, 5-2, and has won the last three matchups, including last year's 59-57 victory at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo. KU, of course, beat Memphis in 2008 in San Antonio to win the national championship. The five meetings prior to that game were played in the 1980s.

All but one KU-Memphis game have been decided by five points or less or in overtime.

JAYHAWKS IN JIMMY V CLASSIC

Kansas is 0-2 in the Jimmy V Classic with last falling to Saint Joseph's, 70-67, on Dec. 6, 2005, in Madison Square Garden.  KU also suffered a 75-66 overtime loss to Temple in the 1995 Jimmy V Classic in East Rutherford, N.J. Kansas has lost its last four games played in Madison Square Garden.

Phog.net Top Stories