WHEN: Thursday, February 26, 2015 at 8 p.m. CT
WHERE: FedEx Forum (Memphis, Tenn.)
TV/RADIO: ESPN2/KAAM 770 AM
SERIES: SMU trails in the series 5-12 to Memphis.
LAST MEETING: SMU defeated Memphis 73-59 in Moody Coliseum on Jan. 8.
SMU may have gotten the win last Thursday that sealed their NCAA tournament bid, coming from behind against Temple. SMU saw the Owls hold a 10-point lead at one point before racing back to grab the win. SMU outscored the Owls 15-6 in the final four minutes. The big story was SMU’s ability to get hot down the stretch from beyond the arc. Ryan Manuel added two key three pointers and the Moody crowd was rocking behind the team for this one.
Memphis has really limped through this season with players being suspended, Josh Pastner on the hot seat, etc., but the Tigers have won two in a row against Connecticut and UCF, but at this point, Memphis is playing the role of spoiler. The Tigers are 17-10 and 9-5 in the AAC. The team has struggled mightily even with the talent on the team. A win over SMU could propel the Tigers back on the right path to an NCAA tournament bid via the AAC tournament.
Three Players to Watch
Shaq Goodwin: Goodwin made minor waves with his comments this week, but Goodwin is looking to backup the comments for the first time against Kennedy. Goodwin has 16 points and 14 rebounds against SMU in his career.
Austin Nichols: The 6-8 forward is coming off his third-best scoring night of the year on Sunday against UCF. Nichols has had 16 points or more and seven rebounds or more in each of his last three games.
Avery Woodson: Woodson is coming off three-straight double-digit scoring nights and the sophomore 6-2 guard is averaging over 40 percent from beyond the arc.
MATCHUP TO WATCH
After his comments this week, be watching Markus Kennedy vs. Shaq Goodwin. Don’t expect fireworks with chippy play, but expect the two big men to go hard and get after it. Kennedy and Goodwin have been matched up against each other the last two years and it has been Kennedy that has been getting the best of Goodwin. Goodwin is ready to play Kennedy he says and with Memphis’ season not looking like it will end in an NCAA bid, the Tigers would love nothing more than to beat SMU tomorrow.
KEYS TO THE GAME
Owning the paint will be key tomorrow against the Tigers. Nichols and Goodwin are two of the Tigers’ three top scorers and Nichols is making a case to be on an All-AAC team. Nichols is Memphis’ high-energy frontcourt man. SMU held Nichols and Goodwin to 16 points and six rebounds combined in the Tigers’ loss to SMU Jan. 8. If SMU can replicate that success, specifically in the frontcourt, SMU has a much better shot at getting the win. Last game, SMU didn’t get Memphis in bad shape foul-wise, but if the Mustangs can work it inside early, SMU could put Goodwin and Nichols on the bench sooner than expected.