Connecticut (13-3) at (17) Memphis (12-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 16, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: FedExForum (18,119) -- Memphis, Tennessee. Television: ESPN. Home Record: UConn 9-1, Memphis 6-1. Away Record: UConn 1-2, Memphis 3-1. Neutral Record: UConn 3-0, Memphis 3-1. Conference Record: UConn 1-2, Memphis 3-1. Series Record: Memphis leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: A pair of high profile teams square off in American Athletic Conference action, as the 17th-ranked Memphis Tigers play host to the Connecticut Huskies on Thursday evening at FedExForum.
Josh Pastner's Tigers are off to a strong start to conference play, as they come into this contest sporting a 3-1 mark in the AAC. Memphis opened league play with a rout of USF (88-73), before suffering a 69-53 setback to Cincinnati. The Tigers have won two straight since, topping Louisville (73-67) and Temple (79-69) on the road in the last seven days.
Kevin Ollie's Huskies have won 13 of their 16 games to date, but the AAC slate has been a bit tougher, with UConn currently sitting at 1-2. The team opened with league losses on the road at Houston and SMU, but has won two in a row, including the first conference win of the season with last weekend's 84-61 trouncing of USF.
These two new conference foes have met just one prior time, an 81-70 Memphis win in the 2007 2K Sports College Hoops Classic at Madison Square Garden.
UConn has performed well at both ends of the floor for the most part and as a result, currently boasts of a +10.3 scoring margin. The Huskies shoot the ball relatively well at a .461 clip, leading to 74.9 ppg. All-American candidate Shabazz Napier has certainly lived up to the hype as one of the most versatile players in the country. Napier leads the team in scoring (16.0 ppg), rebounding (6.4 rpg), assists (96) and steals (34). DeAndre Daniels and Ryan Boatright serve as complements to Napier, adding 12.8 ppg apiece.
The Huskies showed their dominance against the Knights last time out, by completely abusing UCF on the glass, outrebounding the Knights 50-34. Napier posted a double-double in the win with 14 points and 11 assists. Daniels added 13 points and Boatright tacked on 11 for UConn, which shot .460 from the floor in the game, while holding UCF to a mere .313 effort.
Memphis enjoys a similar +10.4 scoring margin on the season thanks to stellar play at the offensive end, where the Tigers are netting nearly 80 points per game (79.9). Joe Jackson leads the way both as the team's top scorer (14.7 ppg) and distributor (3.9 apg). Shaq Goodwin (13.2 ppg, 7.1 rpg) provides frontcourt balance, while Michael Dixon Jr. (11.3 ppg) is the team catalyst coming off the bench.
Goodwin was the driving force in the win over Temple, as he posted a career- high 23 points, while grabbing 11 rebounds for his third career double-double. Dixon added 15 points in 25 minutes of work, while Jackson tacked on 10 points, while doling out six assists.
The Huskies haven't traveled well this season and escaping with a victory at Memphis is a tall task indeed. Napier can keep things close with a strong game, but in the end, the Tigers should ride their homecourt advantage to victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Memphis 74, Connecticut 71
01/16 11:06:31 ET