WHEN: Thursday, January 8 at 8 p.m. CT
WHERE: Moody Coliseum (Dallas, Texas)
TV/RADIO: ESPN2/KAAM 770 AM
SERIES: Memphis leads the series 12-4.
LAST MEETING: SMU and Memphis split last season with Memphis winning the team’s latest matchup in Memphis 67-58.
After the Mustangs best game of the season against USF, the team struggled in a 56-50 road loss to Cincinnati. Ryan Manuel had his best game shooting of the year, scoring 14 points, but didn’t get much help. It was a disappointing loss again due to turnovers plus SMU shooting just 27 percent from beyond the arc and not getting to the free throw line enough. The Mustangs had one of their worst nights at the line, shooting 55 percent, but only had nine free throws attempted.
Memphis has flat out struggled this year even with plenty of talent. The Tigers have struggled with turnovers and finishing games. Their last game, the Tigers dropped a home game against Tulane 74-66. Memphis will also be without Kuran Iverson, an uber-talented 6-10 forward that got in Pastner’s doghouse and will likely be without 6-7 forward Nick King. That’s a lot of size that will be missing for the Tigers, but they have plenty.
Three Players to Watch
Austin Nichols: The sophomore forward has had a breakout year, leading the Tigers in points, rebounds (tied with Goodwin), and blocks. With Nichols patrolling the paint, it will truly be a great matchup down low between SMU’s and Memphis’ frontcourts.
Shaq Goodwin: This guy is an instigator and a bully down low. He’s not afraid to get under players’ skins and stir things up. Goodwin hasn’t been performing up to his All-AAC billing from last year, but there’s plenty of talent there.
Trashon Burrell: The junior is averaging 10.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game and the wing will be another avenue for the Tigers to utilize on offense if the team needs to get it out of the paint.
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Yanick Moreira vs. Austin Nichols: SMU dominated Shaq Goodwin last year in Moody Coliseum, but it was Markus Kennedy matched up on Goodwin. This time, Nichols is Memphis’ best big man, but Moreira’s now in the starting lineup. With Moreira on the block versus Nichols, it will be important for Ben Moore and Markus Kennedy to control Goodwin, who certainly has the talent to go off on any night. Nichols is making a case for an All-AAC team and with him shooting 53 percent, Moreira will again have to have a solid defensive game.
KEYS TO THE GAME
Turnovers and coming out hot. Memphis is a team that is completely out of whack even with a good amount of talent. With Josh Pastner taking it on the chin on Twitter and Kuran Iverson suspended, there's a lot of distractions. If SMU can jump on Memphis and play smart basketball, the Tigers could quit. Couple a fast start with the Moody crowd getting under the Tigers' skin like last year (yes Pastner was chirping back to the crowd), this could be a runaway if SMU starts strong.