The No. 15 Memphis Tigers (7-2) six game winning streak came to an end on Tuesday night by the hands of No. 16 Florida Gators (8-2) by the final score of 77-75. The Tigers fought hard against the Gators but came up short. They could take some positives away from this game. The fact that they didn’t give up and fought to the very end was a moral lost for the basketball program. Now, the Tigers turn their focus to Southeast Missouri State (7-3) of the Ohio Valley Conference.
Missouri State is coming off of a loss to Illinois-Chicago (4-6) by the final score of 75-69. Kelsey Barlow had 21 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists to lead Illinois-Chicago to victory. Prior to this game, Missouri State was on a five game winning streak. This team can put up points as they average 85.6 points a game. They also have guys on this squad who can score the basketball. Missouri State currently has four players who are scoring in double-figures for the season. Junior swingman Jarekious Bradley is their leading scorer averaging 19.5 points a game. Senior forward Tyler Stone is averaging 18.1 points a game. Junior guard Darrian Gray is averaging 11.3 points a game. Newcomer Antonius Cleveland is averaging 10.5 points a game.
Memphis will have to be careful not make this game like the Florida game where both teams were trading baskets throughout the game. Memphis has great talent in both their frontcourt and backcourt. Like Missouri State, the Tigers have four players scoring in double-figures so far into the season. Senior guard Joe Jackson is leading the team with 15.2 points a game. Sophomore forward Shaq Goodwin is having his best season as a Tiger averaging 12.9 points a game. Senior guard Michael Dixon Jr. is averaging 10.7 points a game. Newcomer Austin Nichols is jelling well with the Tigers averaging 10 points a game. As a team, Memphis is averaging 83.6 points a game.
By the looks of it, the fans at the FedEx Forum Saturday night may get a scoring fest from both teams. In order for Memphis to get back to their winning ways, the big men for Memphis have to set the tone early in the game. The nice duo of Goodwin and Nichols has to come out and be the aggressors on the glass and score points. In their loss to Florida, Goodwin and Nichols combined for 11 points, five assists and eight rebounds on 3-of-8 shooting (37.5 percent) from the field. This awful performance can’t repeat itself against Missouri State.
As for the senior guards, two out of four of the senior guards has to have a good game. It doesn’t matter if it’s Jackson and Dixon or Crawford and Johnson, because Josh Pastner mentioned before that he’s rolling with his senior guards. He relies on them to be the leaders on the team and get the job done.
This game is slated for 7 p.m. CST at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, TN. People can watch the game on SportsSouth. This game will also be available on radio stations WREC-AM 600 and WKBQ-FM 93.5.