Jan. 22, 2014
|| #23/22 Memphis (13-4, 3-2) vs Houston (11-7, 3-2)
||Thursday, January 23 - 7 p.m. CT | FedExForum
|| How to Follow
Tigers On TV/Radio/Web
Television: ESPNews (Dave O'Brien, play-by-play; Doris Burke, analyst)/Memphis Comcast channel 220
Radio: WREC 600 AM (Dave Woloshin, play-by-play; Matt Dillon, color analyst; Forrest Goodman, studio host)
Web: WatchESPN (ESPN3.com)
The Last Meeting
February 20, 2013
Memphis Holds Off Pesky Cougars, 81-74
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The University of Memphis men's basketball team (23-3, 12-0 C-USA) held off several second half rallies by Houston (15-10, 4-8 C-USA) to capture their 17th-straight win in a 81-74 victory Wednesday night at FedExForum.
SETTING THE SCENE
Memphis (13-4, 3-2 The American) returns back to league action Jan 23 when it hosts American Athletic Conference foe Houston (11-7, 3-2 The American). ESPNews is televising Thursday's 7 p.m. (CT) contest from FedExForum.
The Memphis-Houston game also can be viewed via the web at ESPN3.com/WatchESPN.
Thursday's contest is the third of a four-game homestand for the Tigers. Memphis closes its homestand against USF Sunday, Jan. 26. The Tigers have a 1-1 record in the current homestand with an 83-73 loss to Connecticut Jan. 16 and a 101-78 victory over LeMoyne-Owen College Jan. 18.
The Tigers remained in both national polls released Jan. 20. Memphis is No. 23 in the Associated Press (AP) poll and No. 22 in the USA Today coaches poll. Houston is not ranked.
Memphis enters Thursday's encounter having won 12 of its last 15 games. The 12 victories came over Nicholls, Siena, LSU, No. 5/8 Oklahoma State, Northwestern State, UALR, Southeast Missouri, Jackson State, USF, No. 8/12 Louisville, Temple and LeMoyne-Owen College. The Tigers' three setbacks were to No. 16/17 Florida 77-75 in the 2013 Jimmy V Classic, Cincinnati 69-53 and Connecticut 83-73.
The Tigers are 7-2 at FedExForum this season, with losses to Cincinnati and Connecticut.
Memphis returns three starters, but only five letterwinners from last year's squad.
The Cougars are 2-3 on the road this season. Overall, Houston has a 3-5 record away from Hofheinz Pavilion (road and neutral).
Houston returns three starters and nine letterwinners from last season's squad.
WHAT THE COUGARS DID A YEAR AGO
Houston posted a 20-13 overall record and a 7-9 Conference USA (C-USA) mark in 2012-13.
The Cougars tied for seventh place in the C-USA regular-season standings.
Houston advanced to the C-USA Tournament quarterfinal round, where it dropped an 80-69 decision to UTEP.
The Cougars played in the 2013 College Basketball Invitational (CBI) and advanced to the CBI quarterfinal round (lost to George Mason).
SCOUTING THE COUGARS
Houston enters Thursday's American Athletic Conference match-up with an 11-7 overall record and a 3-2 league mark.
The Cougars have won four of their last six, including a home victory over Connecticut Dec. 31.
Houston has a 2-3 road record, with wins at Texas-Pan American and USF. Overall the Cougars are 3-5 away from Hofheinz Pavilion (road/neutral games).
Houston was picked to finish seventh in the 2013-14 preseason American Athletic Conference coaches poll.
TaShawn Thomas was a preseason All-American Athletic Conference second team pick.
Thomas leads three Cougars averaging double figures at 16.7 ppg (fifth in The American).
Danuel House (13.9 ppg) and Jherrod Stiggers (10.5 ppg) also average double digits for Houston. House has missed 10 of the last 11 games with an injury.
Thomas is the Cougars' top rebounder at 8.7 rpg. House is the team's second-leading rebounder at 5.6 rpg.
L.J. Rose is the squad's top playmaker with 67 total assists (5.2 apg).
Thomas is tops on the team with 25 steals.
Four Cougars -- Brandon Morris (46 percent), Tione Womack (45.5), Rose (40.6) and Danrad Knowles (38.5) -- all shoot 38 percent or better from the arc.
Houston is shooting 45.1 percent from the field, 36.2 percent from the arc and 67.1 percent from the free throw line.
The Cougars are even with their opponents on the glass (36.4-36.4).
James Dickey is in his fourth season at Houston. He has a 58-53 record at the school.
A FAMILIAR (CONFERENCE) FOE
Not that the Tigers don't enjoy meeting new league opponents and getting reacquainted with former conference foes from years back, but it's always good to see a familiar face.
And, Memphis welcomes a familiar opponent to FedExForum Thursday in Houston.
The Tigers and Cougars played every season from 1996-97 through 2013-14 as members of Conference USA.
Memphis and Houston made the conference shift in the summer of 2013, with both schools becoming charter members of the American Athletic Conference.
Thursday's match-up is the first between the Tigers and Cougars as American Athletic Conference foes.
PASTNER VS. THE HOMETOWN SCHOOLS
For the first time this season, Memphis head coach Josh Pastner is facing a school from his hometown area when the Tigers host Houston Thursday at FedExForum.
Pastner is a Kingwood, Texas, native, and Kingwood is a suburb of Houston. In fact, Pastner grew up around 20 miles from the University of Houston campus.
Pastner, who attended Kingwood High School, coached the Houston Hoops summer team during his high school and collegiate days.
PASTNER RECORD VS. HOUSTON TEAMS
In his four seasons, Josh Pastner has faced three NCAA Division I schools from the city of Houston.
The Tigers have played Houston, Houston Baptist and Rice.
Memphis has a 7-3 record (.700 winning percentage) versus Houston area schools under Pastner.
* Pastner has won his last four games versus Houston-based schools.
The last time a Pastner-coached team lost to a school from Houston was in 2010-11. The Tigers, a predominantly freshmen-led squad that season, fell to Rice 67-52 in Houston.
BATTLE FOR CITY PRIDE
Thursday's game is not only an American Athletic Conference game, it's also a contest for city pride as both teams have several players on their rosters from the respective cities.
On the Tigers' side, eight players hail from the Bluff City area. Chris Crawford, Markel Crawford, Trey Draper, Joe Jackson, Nick King and Jake McDowell all are from Memphis. Anthony Cole (Arlington, Tenn.) and Austin Nichols (Collierville, Tenn.) are from the Memphis suburbs.
Six Cougars call the Houston area home. Valentine Izundu, Danrad Knowles, Lawrence Paye and L.J. Rose are from Houston. Danuel House (Sugar Land) and J.J. Richardson (Missouri City) are from just outside Houston.
Memphis and Houston have a connection, and it's through current Tigers assistant coach Robert Kirby.
Kirby joined head coach Josh Pastner's staff this past summer, but one of his previous coaching stints was at Houston from 1993-98.
During Kirby's time at Houston, the program transitioned from the Southwest Conference (SWC) to Conference USA after the 1995-96 season.
In the their final season in the SWC in 1995-96, Kirby helped guide the Cougars to a 17-10 overall record and a 10-3 league mark.
The 17 overall wins were the most since 1992-93, and the 10 conference victories were the most since 1991-92.
In his five seasons in Houston, Kirby coached six all-league performers and two conference all-defensive team selections.
KIRBY VS. FORMER TEAMS
Prior to Memphis, Robert Kirby coached at UALR (1985-88), Houston (1993-98) and LSU (2012-13).
This season, Kirby and Memphis face all three programs a total of four times.
And, so far, Kirby and the Tigers have been successful in the first two of the four meetings.
Memphis posted wins over LSU 76-69 Nov. 29 (Old Spice Classic semifinal) and UALR 73-59 Dec. 13.
Kirby faces one more former school, Houston, twice in the regular season. The Tigers host the Cougars Thursday and play at Houston Feb. 27.
DO YOU REMEMBER?/OH, SO CLOSE
Since it occurred last season, hopefully most Tigers fans do remember that they almost saw history made.
Chris Crawford nearly became only the third Tigers player in the program's history to record a triple-double in Memphis' 81-74 victory over Houston Feb. 20, 2013.
With under a minute to play, Crawford had 11 points, 13 rebounds (career high) and nine assists.
In the closing seconds, Crawford found Adonis Thomas near the goal for what would have been his 10th assist. However, Thomas faked the layup and dribbled out the clock.
The only two Tigers in school history with triple-doubles are Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway and Antonio Anderson.
Just under two weeks ago, Crawford was closing in on another possible triple-double.
In the Tigers' 79-69 victory at Temple, the 6-foot-4 guard had nine points, eight boards and eight assists.
GET RID OF THE ZERO (HOME) WINS
When they host Houston Thursday, the Tigers will look for their first conference home victory of the season.
Memphis enters Thursday's American Athletic Conference match-up against the Cougars with a 0-2 league mark at FedExForum.
The Tigers dropped their first two conference home games to Cincinnati Jan. 4 and Connecticut Jan. 16.
The last time Memphis opened conference play with a 0-2 home record was 1998-99 with setbacks to Southern Miss and UAB at The Pyramid. The Tigers ended the short skid with a win over Tulane in their third league home game.
The last time Memphis opened league action with three-straight home losses was in 1969-70 (Missouri Valley Conference). The skid ended after the three home setbacks as the Tigers won their fourth conference home game that season.
To carry it further, the 1969-70 squad that opened league play with three home losses extended the Tigers' overall conference home losing streak that stretched over three campaigns.
Memphis lost 13-straight conference home games from the end of the 1967-68 season through the third game of the 1969-70 season.
Included in that streak was a 0-8 Missouri Valley Conference home record in 1968-69.
TIGERS SUCCESS AT FEDEXFORUM
The Tigers have a 169-20 overall record (.894 winning percentage) at FedExForum since moving to the arena for the 2004-05 campaign.
Since the 2005 Conference USA Tournament, Memphis has won 159 of its last 173 home games (.919 winning percentage).
BEST HOMECOURT ADVANTAGE
Since 2004-05, Memphis has won 169 games at FedExForum, the most home wins in the country over that span of time.
The following are the top-five programs with the most home wins since 2004-05 (credit to former Athletics Communications Assistant Bryan McEldowney for compiling this list):
Most Home Wins Since 2004-05 (as of Jan. 22, 2014) 1. Memphis 169 2. Ohio State 164 3. Syracuse 161 4. Louisville 157 Kansas 157 Pittsburgh 157
TIGERS SENIORS APPROACHING 100
The Tigers' four-year seniors Chris Crawford, Trey Draper and Joe Jackson are closing in on a milestone and need five more wins to reach it (Michael Dixon Jr. is a one-year senior and Geron Johnson is a two-year senior).
When the four-year seniors notch five more wins, they will hit the 100-victory plateau for their careers.
The Tigers' current four-year senior class has a 95-28 record (.772 winning percentage).
The following lists the top-five winningest four-year senior classes in school history:
Four-Year Class Wins
2005-06 to 2008-09 137*
2006-07 to 2009-10 127
2004-05 to 2007-08 126
1983-84 to 1986-87 111
2002-03; 2004-05 to 2006-07 111
. 2010-11 to present 95
EIGHT IN A ROW
Winning 100 games in a four-year playing career is becoming common in recent Tigers hoops history.
When this season's four-year seniors Chris Crawford, Trey Draper and Joe Jackson win their 100th game, it will be the eighth-consecutive, four-year senior class to reach the 100-win milestone. (Note: The 2010-11 team did not have a four-year senior; Will Coleman was a two-year senior after transferring from Miami Dade College)
The following shows the current senior class' win total and the Tigers' previous seven-straight, four-year senior classes that won 100 games:
2010-11 to 2013-14 95
2009-10 to 2012-13 106
2008-09 to 2011-12 108
2006-07 to 2009-10 127
2005-06 to 2008-09 137*
2004-05 to 2007-08 126
2002-03; 2004-05 to 2006-07 111
2002-03 to 2005-06 100