Memphis Basketball Notes
Jan. 15, 2010
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TIGERS TRAVEL TO HOUSTON SATURDAY TO FACE RICE IN C-USA SHOWDOWN
The Tigers enter Saturday's contest having won 10 of their last 13 outings. In that 13-game stretch, Memphis posted wins over Tennessee Tech 92-59, Central Arkansas 81-49, Oakland 77-46, Arkansas State 74-55, Montana State 76-51, Arkansas-Little Rock 83-71, Southeast Missouri State 87-57, IUPUI 87-67, Houston Baptist 93-52, Southern Miss 59-57 and East Carolina 77-57. The Tigers' three setbacks in the last 13 games were to UMass 73-72 in Boston, Mass., No. 14/14 Tennessee 66-59 at FedExForum and No. 7/7 Syracuse 74-57 at the Carrier Dome.
The Tigers' only other loss was another narrow one to then-No. 1/1 Kansas 57-55 in St. Louis, Mo. The Kansas, Tennessee Tech, Central Arkansas and Oakland games were part of the 2009 Hall of Fame Showcase classic.
Memphis, picked to finish between second and fourth in Conference USA in most preseason polls, returns only one starter and six letterwinners from last year's squad that won 33 games (33-4 record) and advanced to the NCAA Tournament West Region semifinal (Sweet Sixteen). En route to the Sweet Sixteen, the Tigers swept the Conference USA regular season and tournament crowns.
Rice has lost four straight and six of its last seven entering Saturday's game. The Owls dropped their first three league games with setbacks to Houston, UCF and Tulane. Rice's lone victory in the last seven games was a 75-62 win over McNeese State on Dec. 29.
SCOUTING THE OWLS
The freshman tandem of Tamir Jackson and Arsalan Kazemi pace the Owls' offense. Jackson leads the team with an 11.6 scoring average, while Kazemi is second at 10.0 ppg. Kazemi leads Rice on the glass with a 7.9 rebounding average, and Lawrence Ghoram follows at 4.0 rpg. Jackson is tops on the squad with 45 assists (2.8 apg). Ghoram is the Owls' top three-point threat, hitting 45.8 percent from the arc. Connor Frizzelle is shooting 39.4 percent from the three-point line.
Rice is shooting 40.2 percent from the field, 32.8 percent from the three-point line and 69 percent from the charity stripe. Opponents are out-rebounding the Owls by a narrow average margin of 0.1 (35.3-35.4).
MEMPHIS IN CONFERENCE USA
Last year's 16 C-USA victories tied the Tiger record for most league wins in a season in school history. Prior to the previous three campaigns (2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09), Memphis' most C-USA wins were 13 on two occasions in 2002-03 (13-3) and 2005-06 (13-1).
Memphis won its first outright C-USA regular season title in 2005-06, and followed that with out-right regular season crowns in 2006-07, 2007-08 and 2008-09. 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.
JANUARY PROVES GOOD FOR TIGERS
STREAKING IN C-USA
The Tigers have won 51-straight regular season Conference USA games and 63-straight C-USA overall contests, including the league's postseason tournaments. The last time Memphis suffered a setback to a C-USA foe was Mar. 2, 2006, when the Tigers fell at UAB 80-74 -- a span of 1,415 days.
The 63-game win streak (includes C-USA Tournaments) is the longest in C-USA history. The 51-game regular-season win streak is also tops in C-USA history, moving past Cincinnati's 21-game regular season win streak from 1998-99 through 2000-01.
TIGERS' C-USA STREAK AMONG BEST IN NCAA DIVISION I HISTORY
Conference Win Streak
WILSON RETURNS TO ALMA MATER
Wilson was a four-year letterwinner for the Owls from 1978-82 and served as the team's co-captain his senior campaign. He served two stints as an assistant coach from 1985-86 and 1987-91, and then took over the reins of the Rice program in 1992 and stayed as the head coach until 2008. He guided the Owls to three NIT appearances in his tenure.
FAMILIAR FACES NOW FOES
A HOUSTON (AREA) HOMECOMING
As a high school and college student, Pastner coached the Houston Hoops summer AAU program.
PASTNER VERSUS BRAUN
In those 12 years in Pac-10 play, Braun's Bears and Pastner's Wildcats met a total of 26 times, and Arizona won 22 of those encounters (22-4 record). In Pastner's time as an assistant coach at Arizona (2002-03 to 2007-08), the Wildcats were 11-2 against Braun and his California squads.
Ironically, Braun's first victory over Arizona in the 1996-97 season (79-77) was the Wildcats' final setback of that campaign. After that loss to California, the Wildcats won six-straight NCAA Tournament games to claim the national title.
Memphis started its run to the NCAA title game in Little Rock, Ark., with the tournament's first two rounds. Then, the Tigers moved on to Houston, where they defeated Michigan State and Texas en route to the Final Four.
Earlier this season, Memphis played Arkansas-Little Rock in the Verizon Arena in North Little Rock, the site of the Tigers' first and second round victories in the 2008 NCAA Tournament.
FORMER TIGERS LURKING IN CROWD?
Also, Chance McGrady may pay a visit to see the Tigers play. McGrady, who lives outside Houston in Sugar Land, wore the Blue and Gray from 2006-09 and is a member of the winningest four-year class in NCAA Division I history with 137 victories (137-14 record).
THERE'S A SECOND TIME FOR A FIRST?
In 2005-06, Memphis played the Owls on their home floor at Autry Court. Two years later (2007-08), the Tigers and Owls met at Reliant Arena because of the on-going renovations to Autry Court. So, Saturday's game is Memphis' first at Tudor Fieldhouse, which opened for the 2008-09 season.
WELCOME TO THE (1,000-PT) CLUB
Mack entered that game with 992 career points and needed only eight to reach the 1,000-point plateau. The milestone moment came 2:08 into the second half when Mack canned a trey for his eighth point of the contest and the 1,000th point of his career. The Charlotte, N.C., native finished the contest with 15 points and now has 1,007 career points.
Mack is the 46th member of the Tiger 1,000-point club and is tied for the No. 44 spot on the Memphis career scoring list.
`SPOON ON A ROLL; SCORES CAREER-HIGH 22 POINTS VERSUS EAST CAROLINA
In the last eight contests, Witherspoon averaged 13.0 points and 4.1 rebounds. The 6-foot-9 forward shot 47.4 percent from the field, 47.6 percent from the arc and 83.3 percent from the free throw line in those eight outings.
The Atlanta, Ga., native scored double figures in seven of the eight games, including a career-high 22 points versus East Carolina Jan. 13. He also blocked a career-best four shots versus Tennessee Dec. 31.
For more notes on the Memphis-Rice game, click on pdf link at the top of the page.