Tigers Outrun the Pirates, 70-47, to Earn 20th Win
The University of Memphis men's basketball team opened the second half on a 10-2 run before cruising to a 70-47 victory over visiting East Carolina on Wednesday night at FedExForum. Conference USA leading-scorer Will Barton dropped in a game-high 25 points and pulled down nine rebounds.
Tigers On TV/Radio/Web Television: SportSouth/Comcast digital channel 52 (Greg Gaston, play-by-play; Sean Tuohy, color analyst)
Radio: WREC 600 AM (Dave Woloshin, play-by-play; Matt Dillon, color analyst; Forrest Goodman, studio host)
SETTING THE SCENE
Memphis (10-3, 0-0 C-USA) returns to the friendly confines of FedExForum Wednesday, Jan. 9 to host East Carolina (9-4, 0-0 C-USA) in the Conference USA opener for both squads. The game, to be televised on SportSouth, is scheduled for a 7 p.m. (CT) start.
The Tigers did not appear in either national poll this week.
The Tigers bounced back after their Dec. 15 setback to No. 6/6 Louisville with four-consecutive wins over Lipscomb 62-56 Dec. 20, Oral Roberts 72-57 Dec. 28, Loyola, Md., 78-64 Dec. 30 and Tennessee 85-80 Jan. 4.
Prior to the Dec. 15 loss, Memphis had won four straight with victories over Northern Iowa 52-47 Nov. 24, UT Martin 93-65 Nov. 29, Ohio 84-58 Dec. 5 and Austin Peay 83-65 Dec. 8.
East Carolina has won three of its last five contests with victories over Gardner-Webb, Norfolk State (2012 NCAA Tournament third round participant) and N.C. Wesleyan.
The Pirates are 1-3 in road games this season, with their lone victory at Georgia State. The three road setbacks were at Charlotte, North Carolina and UMass.
East Carolina returns four starters and nine letterwinners from last year's 15-16 squad.
WHAT'S UP NEXT
The Tigers travel to Birmingham, Ala., to face longtime rival UAB in their Conference USA road opener Saturday, Jan. 12. The game, which is set to air on Comcast Sports Southeast, is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. (CT) tip.
The Pirates return to Greenville, N.C., Saturday, Jan. 12 to host UCF in their C-USA home opener. The game is set for a 6 p.m. (CT) start.
WHAT THE PIRATES DID A YEAR AGO
East Carolina posted a 15-16 overall record and a 5-11 Conference USA mark.
The Pirates finished in 10th place in the C-USA regular-season standings.
East Carolina defeated Rice 68-66 in its C-USA Tournament opening-round game, before dropping an 81-78 overtime decision to Southern Miss in the quarterfinal.
SCOUTING THE PIRATES
East Carolina brings a 9-4 overall record into Wednesday's C-USA opener.
The Pirates won five straight to open the 2012-13 season, but are 4-4 since.
East Carolina is 1-3 in road games, with the lone victory coming at Georgia State. The Pirates dropped road contests at Charlotte, North Carolina and UMass.
The tandem of Maurice Kemp (18.1 ppg) and Miguel Paul (12.1 ppg) paces the Pirates offense.
Robert Sampson leads East Carolina on the glass with a 9.0 rebounding average, while Kemp is second at 8.8 rpg.
Paul leads the team with 54 total assists (4.9 apg), while Akeem Richmond is the squad's top three-point threat at 42.9 percent.
The Pirates are shooting 45.8 percent from the floor, 31.8 percent from the three-point line and 67.8 percent from the charity stripe.
East Carolina is out-rebounding its opponents by an average margin of +2.5 boards per game (39.0-36.5).
The Pirates lead C-USA in assists per game (18.0) and average the third-fewest turnovers per game in the league (12.6).
LEBO A BLUFF CITY VETERAN
While this is Jeff Lebo's fourth trip to Memphis as East Carolina's head coach (includes 2012 C-USA Tournament), the former Tar Heel guard is a Bluff City veteran, going back to the 2001-02 season.
Eleven years ago, Lebo, then the head coach at Tennessee Tech, brought his Golden Eagles squad to The Pyramid to meet Memphis in the 2002 National Invitation Tournament (NIT) quarterfinal round.
The Tigers won a hard-fought 79-73 game on Mar. 23, 2002, and advanced to the NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Memphis went on to win the NIT title.
PIRATES, A TIGERS' JANUARY HABIT
When the Conference USA schedule comes out every fall, one can almost bet that Memphis and East Carolina will play in the month of January.
In seven of the last eight seasons (includes 2012-13), Memphis and East Carolina has played in the month of January.
Of the last 10 meetings (since 2005-06), six have come in the month of January.
Memphis is 6-0 in those January encounters with the Pirates, and the Tigers posted double-digit victories in five contests.
HIDE YOUR EYES!
Wednesday's contest may not be a pretty sight in terms of shooting from long distance.
Memphis and East Carolina both are in the bottom half of Conference USA in three-point shooting percentage.
The Tigers are seventh in Conference USA in three-point shooting percentage (34.7), while the Pirates are 12th (31.8).
GET YOUR TRACK SHOES ON
Wednesday's hoops contest could turn into a track meet.
Memphis and East Carolina both rank among the top-four scoring offenses and top-five field goal shooting percentage teams in Conference USA.
In the C-USA statistical leaders, the Tigers are fourth in scoring offense (74.8) and second in field goal percentage (47.8).
The Pirates have C-USA's second-leading scoring offense (79.2) and fifth-best field goal percentage squad (45.8).
MEMPHIS IN CONFERENCE USA
The Tigers have an all-time record of 199-65 (.754 winning percentage) in C-USA play.
Memphis posted double-digit league wins in 14 of its previous 17 seasons in Conference USA, including a school-record and league-record tying 16 games in 2006-07, 2007-08 and 2008-09.
Last season, the Tigers won the Conference USA regular-season title with a 13-3 league mark.
Memphis won its first outright C-USA regular season title in 2005-06, and followed that with outright regular season crowns in 2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2011-12.
Memphis also tied for the C-USA regular season crown in 2003-04 (12-4 record) and 1995-96 (11-3).
Memphis also won three National Division titles in 1997-98, 2001-02 and 2002-03, and captured two league White Division championships in 1995-96 and 1996-97.
THE FIRST TO NO. 200
On Wednesday, the Tigers will attempt to make both program and Conference USA history.
With a win over East Carolina, Memphis will post its 200th C-USA victory, becoming the first school in league history to reach that milestone.
The Tigers enter Wednesday's game with a 199-65 all-time Conference USA record.
Memphis' C-USA wins are the most victories in any league in the program's history. The Tigers' second-most wins in conference play were 111 in the Metro Conference from 1976-91.
The following lists the top-five winningest programs in Conference USA play (league wins only):
MEMPHIS IN CONFERENCE USA OPENERS
The Tigers have a 13-4 record (.765 winning pct.) in their previous 17 C-USA openers.
Memphis has won its league opener the last eight years, including a 62-59 victory over UAB in Birmingham, Ala., last year (Jan. 7, 2012).
Wednesday's game is the 15th time in the Tigers' C-USA history that they opened league play at home.
The last time Memphis lost a C-USA opener was in the 2003-04 campaign. The Tigers fell 66-63 at Southern Miss Jan. 10, 2004.
PASTNER IN CONFERENCE USA OPENERS
Memphis head coach Josh Pastner has coached in only three C-USA openers and won all three. However, all three victories were close calls.
In 2012, Adonis Thomas blocked a final UAB three-point attempt to tie the game, and Memphis posted a 62-59 win over the Blazers in Bartow Arena.
In 2011, Memphis hit clutch free throws in the final three minutes, and Chris Crawford stole an in-bounds pass with :02.5 left in a 61-58 win over East Carolina.
In 2010, the Tigers pulled out a 59-57 win at Southern Miss when Willie Kemphit two free throws with :05.2 left.
MEMPHIS IN CONFERENCE USA HOME OPENERS
Memphis has a 14-3 record (.824 winning percentage) in Conference USA home openers.
The Tigers have won their last 11 league home openers, including last year's 60-58 victory over Southern Miss Jan. 11, 2012.
The last time Memphis dropped a C-USA home opener was the 2000-01 campaign, a 75-67 setback to Southern Miss (Dec. 27, 2000).
PASTNER IN CONFERENCE USA HOME OPENERS
Memphis head coach Josh Pastner has coached in three C-USA home openers and won all three with two victories over East Carolina and one over Southern Miss.
In 2012, Chris Crawford hit two free throws with :31 left and then had a Southern Miss three-point attempt bounce off the rim at the buzzer for the 60-58 win.
In 2011, Memphis hit clutch free throws in the final three minutes, and Crawford stole an in-bounds pass with :02.5 left in a 61-58 win over the Pirates.
In 2010, the Tigers pulled away early in a 77-57 victory over East Carolina.
WHEN THEY'RE ONE IN THE SAME
The Tigers have a 10-3 record (.769 winning percentage) when their Conference USA opener is also their league home opener.
Memphis played its first eight C-USA openers at home from 1996-2003 (5-3 record)
The Tigers have won their last five combo openers (C-USA opener/league home opener).
The last time Memphis' C-USA opener was also its league home opener was the 2010-11 campaign, and the Tigers posted a 61-58 win over East Carolina at FedExForum.
TIGERS TOUGH AT HOME IN C-USA
Since moving to FedExForum in 2004-05, Memphis has turned its homecourt into one of toughest arenas for opponents to play, and that is seen in the Tigers' 153-18 overall record.
But, it is even tougher for Conference USA foes since conference realignment in 2005-06.
Memphis has an incredible 67-3 record (.957 winning percentage) at FedExForum versus C-USA opponents (regular season and conference tournament) since 2005-06.
The following shows the nation's top-10 conference homecourt records since 2005-06 (regular season and conference tournament; credit to Bryan McEldowney for compiling this list and Travis Chell for its updates this season):
Best Homecourt Records in Conference Play Only (Reg. Season & Tourney) Since 2005-06
TIGERS LOOKING FOR 15TH DOUBLE-DIGIT WINNING SEASON IN C-USA
With the C-USA season opening Wednesday, the Tigers are looking to add another double-digit winning league campaign to its history.
In 2011-12, Memphis recorded its 14th season of double-digit victories in C-USA play with a 13-3 league record. It was also the seventh-consecutive year the Tigers recorded double-digit wins in C-USA action.
Before the shift in C-USA prior to the 2005-06 campaign, the Tigers were tied for the second-most, double-digit conference win seasons with seven (at the time tied with Charlotte).
The following lists the top-five teams in C-USA history with double-digit league win seasons:
No. of C-USA Seasons with Double-Digit League Wins
PASTNER AT THE TOP OF THE CLASS
After three seasons at the helm of the Tigers program, Josh Pastner is the winningest coach in school history -- for conference wins.
With Memphis' 36 Conference USA wins from 2009-12, Pastner is the program's winningest head coach in terms of conference victories.
The following shows the Tigers head coaches and the number of conference wins in their first three years:
Head Coach/First 3 Years/Conference
No. of Conf. Wins
TIGERS SUCCESS AT FEDEXFORUM
The Tigers have a 153-18 overall record (.895 winning percentage) at FedExForum since moving to the arena for the 2004-05 campaign.
Since the 2005 Conference USA Tournament, Memphis has won 143 of its last 155 home games (.923 winning percentage).
Against Conference USA foes (regular season and tournament) at FedExForum since 2004-05, the Tigers have a 75-7 mark (.915 winning percentage).
Under head coach Josh Pastner, Memphis is 24-3 (.889 winning percentage) against C-USA opponents.