Southeast Missouri State (7-3) at (15) Memphis (7-2)
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 21, 8 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: FedExForum (18,400) -- Memphis, Tennessee. Television: SportSouth. Home Record: SEMO 2-1, UM 4-0. Away Record: SEMO 2-2, UM 0-1. Neutral Record: SEMO 3-0, UM 3-1. Conference Record: SEMO 0-0, UM 0-0. Series Record: Memphis leads, 3-2.
GAME NOTES: A pair of teams sporting nearly identical records get together at FedExForum on Saturday night, as the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks come calling on the 15th-ranked Memphis Tigers.
SEMO enters the fray at 7-3, and recently had a five-game win streak halted in a 75-69 home loss to Illinois-Chicago. The Redhawks have been idle since last Saturday's setback, and they will climb above the .500 mark (2-2) in true road games if they can somehow knock off the Tigers on their home floor tonight.
Memphis too is fresh off a loss, a narrow 77-75 decision versus Florida four days ago in New York City as part of the Jimmy V Classic. As a result, the Tigers fell to 7-2 on the season, with their only other defeat coming in the first of two matchups with Oklahoma State (101-80 on Nov. 19). They got their revenge on the Cowboys a couple weeks later with a 73-68 triumph in the title tilt of the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Florida.
The all-time series between these two clubs is tied at 2-2, and the most recent encounter went to the Tigers in an 87-57 win in Memphis on Dec. 22, 2009.
Southeast Missouri State came into the week tied for 17th place nationally in scoring offense, as the team's 85.6 ppg average speaks volumes to the efficiency in which it goes about its business. Boasting four double-digit scorers, the Redhawks are shooting a collective 50.2 percent from the field, draining 37.6 percent of their 3-point attempts along the way, and 72.1 percent of their free throws. Slim margins in both rebounding and turnovers help the overall cause, but the team will need to tighten things up on defense (72.1 ppg) if they truly hope to make noise in the Ohio Valley Conference this season. Jarekious Bradley (19.5 ppg, 7.7 rpg) and Tyler Stone (18.1 ppg, 8.8 rpg) have done it all for SEMO here in the early going, and they get help from Darrian Gray (11.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg), Antonius Cleveland (10.5 ppg), Lucas Nutt (9.4 ppg, 6.3 apg) and Nino Johnson (9.0 ppg, 6.9 rpg).
Bradley was a man possessed in the recent loss to Illinois-Chicago, going for 28 points and nine rebounds, while Gray tallied 14 points and seven boards and Stone chipped in with 10 points. The Redhawks made good on only 40 percent of their total shots, missing 16 of their 21 3-point tries along the way.
Memphis is right there with SEMO with regard to offensive production, netting 83.7 ppg in hitting 48.1 percent of its field goal attempts, which includes a 33.3 percent showing from beyond the arc. The Tigers permit 70.9 ppg, and they are presently in the black in both rebounding (+2.8) and turnover (+4.9) margins. There is no shortage of guys capable of leading the team on any given night, with Joe Jackson currently sitting atop the scoring chart with 15.2 ppg. Shaq Goodwin (12.9 ppg, 6.3 rpg), Michael Dixon, Jr. (10.7 ppg) and Austin Nichols (10.0 ppg, 5.2 rpg) round out the unit's double-digit scorers.
Despite an off night in terms of shooting, Jackson (5-of-13) paced Memphis in its recent loss to Florida with 17 points, while Geron Johnson hit for 13, Chris Crawford and David Pellom each tallied a dozen, and Dixon, Jr. pitched in with 10. The Gators shot 51.9 percent from the field compared to 47.4 percent for the Tigers, who committed only eight turnovers compared to 17 for Florida. The Gators controlled the glass, 37-26.
As well as the Redhawks have performed this season, winning in Memphis is extremely difficult. Expect the Tigers to bounce back from their loss in the Big Apple and establish a new groove as they look ahead to their American Athletic Conference opener at USF on New Year's Eve.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Memphis 81, Southeast Missouri State 72
12/21 10:32:00 ET