(19) Memphis (24-3) at Xavier (15-11)
Tuesday, February 26, 7 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Lucas Gulotta, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Cintas Center (10,250) -- Cincinnati, Ohio Television: ESPN2. Home Record: Memphis 16-1, Xavier 9-3. Away Record: Memphis 7-0, Xavier 4-6. Neutral Record: Memphis 1-2, Xavier 2-2. Conference Record: Memphis 13-0, Xavier 8-5. Series Record: Xavier leads, 6-2.
GAME NOTES: Josh Pastner hopes to collect his 100th career victory as he guides his No. 19 Memphis Tigers to the Cintas Center for a non-conference bout against the Xavier Musketeers.
Pastner, whose career record is 99-32 entering Tuesday, will most likely become the second quickest coach to win 100 games at Memphis, trailing only Bob Vanatta who accomplished the feat in his 129th appearance on the bench. John Calipari arrived at 100 in his 145th game with the program.
Although Xavier is 6-2 all-time versus Memphis, the Tigers were able to claim a 72-68 victory on Feb. 12, 2012 in the most recent clash between these mid- major powers. The Musketeers led that contest by 11 points with 6:16 left, but Memphis closed out the game on a 21-6 run in front of its FedExForum crowd.
The Tigers earned their 18th consecutive victory on Saturday as they blew past Southern Miss for an 89-73 decision which guaranteed them at least a share of the Conference USA regular season crown. Memphis showed against the Golden Eagles that it is not a team anyone will want to face in March as it assisted on 25 of its 29 made field goals and connected on 50 percent of its field-goal tries. Chris Crawford and Shaq Goodwin tallied 19 points each, while Joe Jackson, who paces the squad with 13.8 points and 4.7 assists per tilt, contributed 15 points to mark his fourth consecutive game in double digits.
Memphis is one of the few teams in the nation that actually performs better on the road. In home games, the Tigers are allowing the opposition to shoot 40.1 percent from the floor, 36.2 percent from beyond the arc and post 6.5 blocks per tilt. They are limiting their foes to 38.3 percent field-goal shooting, 27.2 percent 3-point shooting and have rejected eight shots per away game. The improved intensity on the defensive end has led to a perfect 7-0 road record. Memphis's only three losses have come to VCU, Minnesota and Louisville, all of which are in the top 40 in the RPI.
Chris Mack's Musketeers enter with a 15-11 overall record after suffering a tough, 75-71 loss to Virginia Commonwealth on Saturday. Xavier jumped out to a 17-point lead over the Rams, but it was not able to cope with VCU's full court press and fell to 52-2 in Atlantic 10 home games since 2007. The Musketeers are 9-3 at the Cintas Center this season.
Xavier lost point guard Dee Davis at the 13:35 mark versus VCU after he was hit in the forehead and cut above his right eye. He and Brad Redford scored 15 points each in the loss while Semaj Christon finished with 11 points, seven assists and 10 turnovers. Travis Taylor, who paces the A-10 on the boards with 8.6 rpg, grabbed nine rebounds but was held to just five points. Despite Christon's career-high number of turnovers versus VCU, he is still having a tremendous freshman campaign with averages of 15.0 points and 4.6 assists per outing.
Memphis has been more athletic than all of its opponents this season and it seems that it is beginning to gel at the right time. Sophomore swingman Adonis Thomas was once a projected NBA lottery pick before he fell into Will Barton's shadow as a rookie. He is beginning to put himself back on the professional scouts' radar with his recent improvement. The Musketeers are very good at home, but they will be overmatched for the second straight occasion.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Memphis 70, Xavier 66
02/26 10:33:17 ET