The Mustangs are coming off an impressive 65-43 win over Central Florida this past Wednesday, while Memphis narrowly escaped the claws of defeat against Marshall. SMU has done everything right these past three games, and are riding all the momentum in the world heading into their matchup against Memphis. So how can SMU extend their win streak to four against a team that has dominated Conference USA in recent memory? Take a look at our keys to victory for SMU.
Momentum vs. Intimidation
From 2006 until January 20 of 2010, Memphis won every single C-USA game on their schedule. That means they went 16-0 in their conference for three straight seasons, and partially into this season until their defeat against UTEP. Every time Memphis takes the floor against their C-USA competitors, the opposing teams seem to falter against them. This is simply due to the fact that Memphis has been dominant for so long in C-USA play, especially against SMU. In their last meeting in 2008, Memphis dismantled SMU 90-47, with all five of Memphis' starters scoring double digits. Coming into Saturday's meeting, SMU is riding a three game winning streak – their longest of the season. With nearly an average of 14 points during their win streak, SMU has been clicking on all cylinders. They couldn't have asked for a better time to be riding a full tank of momentum heading into one of their toughest games of the year.
Paul McCoy or Derek Williams?
Although McCoy is only averaging 8.2 points per game this season, along with 2.5 assists per game, he has been their one consistent player against Memphis. Take a look at his two performances against Memphis last season:
Points per Game: 16.5
Assists per Game: 3.5
Don't forget, that was just his freshman season. McCoy has grown since then as a player, and we can only hope that he continues his success against the Tigers. As for senior Derek Williams, he too had success against Memphis in 2008.
Points per Game: 12
Assists per Game: 4.5
These two guys were the only players to remain efficient against the top ten Memphis Tigers in 2008. Just as they did last year, McCoy and Williams will need to perform just as they did, and will need someone like Papa Dia or Mouhammad Faye to step up alongside them.
It's tough to imagine Memphis (15-5, 5-1) collapsing against SMU (9-10, 2-3), but we've seen crazier things occur in college basketball. If the Mustangs are to stand a chance, they will need their star players, especially their two seniors, Derek Williams and Mouhammad Faye, to rise to the occasion. As for Memphis, they possess one of the top guards in all of college basketball, sophomore Elliot Williams. The 6'4" Memphis native averages 19.8 points per game, with 3.5 assists per game. SMU needs to contain the young talent, and use their momentum to kick start their game early on.