The No. 22/24 ranked Memphis Tigers (20-6, 9-4 AAC) are probably feeling better after getting their 20th win of the season on the road against the Scarlett Knights of Rutgers University.
They played with a sense of urgency since the regular season is almost over with. Tiger Nation are happy with the win, but they want to see big wins down the stretch before the AAC tournament kicks off in the second week of March.
On Thursday night, the Scarlett Knights had looked to pull off their biggest win of the season as they kept the game close for the most part, but the Tigers prevailed with an 64-59 road victory. Senior guard Michael Dixon Jr. led the team in scoring with 15 points. Joe Jackson added 11 points. Shaq Goodwin and Austin Nichols both finished the game with 10 points apiece.
For the game, the Tigers shot 47.8 percent (22-of-46) from the field, 30.8 percent (4-of-13) from long range, and 76.2 percent (16-of-21) from the free throw line.
Memphis may feel some type of comfort as they will host the Temple Owls (7-18, 2-11 AAC) in front of the Tiger Nation fanatics. In the first meeting between both teams, the Tigers won the game by 10 points (79-69).
Goodwin had a monster game leading his team with 23 points and 11 rebounds. Dixon added 15 points and five assists. Jackson pitched in 10 points. As for the rest of the team, no one else scored in double figures.
As a team, the Tigers shot 45.5 percent (30-of-66) from the field, 27.8 percent (5-of-18) from long range, and 73.7 percent (14-of-19) from the free throw line. In their second meeting with the Owls, Memphis will have to find a way to slow down senior guard Dalton Pepper and sophomore guard Quenton DeCosey.
Pepper had 24 points and eight rebounds against Memphis. DeCosey added 18 points. They were the main reason Temple was competitive for the majority of the game. Memphis can’t allow for the backcourt of the Owls to set the tone early in the game. The Tigers will have to play with the win or go home mindset as if there’s no tomorrow.
The Owls are coming off a home loss to No. 21 Connecticut Huskies on Thursday night. Senior guard Shabazz Napier finished the game with 17 points, 12 rebounds, and seven assists to lead his team to an 68-55 road victory. Three other Huskies would also score in double figures. Ryan Boatright had 14 points. DeAndre Daniels added 13 points. Amida Brimah pitched in 10 points.
As a team, the Owls are shooting 42.7 percent (657-of-1538) from the field for the season. They are also shooting 34.4 percent (161-of-498) from beyond the arc. They average 73 points a game but give up 77 points. That’s a sign of poor defensive efforts from this young team.
Temple could possibly run into more trouble against Memphis with their talented backcourt. Jackson is Memphis leading scorer with 14.8 points a game. Dixon is third on the team in scoring (11.5 ppg). If two of the four senior guards can have a solid game, then the Tigers’ offense could run smoothly as long as the frontcourt does their part.
Goodwin and Nichols could score in double figures at ease and can cause a problem for a Temple team that’s not too big in the paint.
Good news came Memphis way on Friday as freshman forward Dominic Woodson has been reinstated by coach Josh Pastner after he was suspended over a week ago for unacceptable language. Woodson will suit up in the home game against Temple, but he’s not eligible to travel with the team on the road. With Woodson out of the lineup, the Tigers had to rely on a thin frontcourt.
Senior graduate transfer David Pellom has played a small amount of minutes due to his fragile knees. Most likely, Goodwin and Nichols will play big minutes for the remainder of the season.
The Tigers are currently 12-2 at home this season. Memphis seems to be more relaxed and calmed when playing in front of their home crowd. They can’t afford to get too comfortable with the Owls thirsty for a win on the road. The Owls last road win was on Dec. 21 against Long Island (101-65). Since then, the Owls are clueless on how to get a win away from their home floor.
The game between Memphis and Temple is slated for Saturday at 8:30 p.m. CST in Memphis, TN at the FedEx Forum. The game will be televised on ESPNU.