Memphis Basketball Notes
Go Tigers!
Go Tigers!

Go Tigers!

Jan. 28, 2011

SIDs pay tribute this weekend to Oklahoma State men's hoops SID Will Hancock 10 years after the tragedy

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Tigers On TV/Radio/Web
Television: None
Radio: WREC 600 AM (Dave Woloshin, play-by-play; Matt Dillon, color analyst; Forrest Goodman, studio host)
Web: Game to be streamed live on Memphis athletics web site at via All-Access (must register to view game)

The University of Memphis squad (16-4, 5-1 C-USA) closes out January with a road trip to Huntington, W.Va., for a Conference USA encounter versus Marshall (13-7, 1-4 C-USA). Game time is 6 p.m. (CT).

Memphis is still ranked in the Also Receiving Votes category of both national polls -- No. 33 in Associated Press and No. 38 in ESPN/USA Today coaches.

Memphis started C-USA play with a 5-1 record. The Tigers posted home wins over East Carolina 61-58 Jan. 8 and Marshall 77-61 Jan. 15, but dropped a 64-58 decision in their league road opener at SMU Jan. 12. Last week, Memphis won back-to-back road games with thrilling victories over rivals Southern Miss 76-75 in Hattiesburg, Miss., and UAB 76-73 in overtime in Birmingham, Ala. In their last outing Jan. 26, Memphis defeated UCF 77-61 at FedExForum.

After closing a five-game homestand over the holidays, Memphis played its first road game of the season Jan. 5 at Tennessee. The Tigers fell to the Volunteers 104-84. In the five-game homestand, Memphis posted a 4-1 record with wins over Austin Peay Dec. 16, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Dec. 20, Lipscomb Dec. 30 and Tennessee State Jan. 2 and a loss to No. 10/9 Georgetown Dec. 23.

Marshall enters Saturday's contest having dropped three of its last four. All three setbacks were to Conference USA foes Memphis, East Carolina and UAB. The Thundering Herd's lone victory in that stretch was a thrilling 75-71 win over in-state rival West Virginia Jan. 19.

Marshall brings a 13-7 overall record and a 1-4 Conference USA mark into Saturday's contest. The Thundering Herd have dropped three of their last four. All three setbacks were to Conference USA foes Memphis, East Carolina and UAB. Marshall's lone victory in that stretch was a thrilling 75-71 win over in-state rival West Virginia Jan. 19.

The tandem of DeAndre Kane and Damier Pitts paces the Marshall offense, as both players average a team-leading 15.1 points. Tirrell Baines is the squad's only other double-figure scorer at 12.6 ppg. Baines leads the Thundering Herd on the glass with a 7.4 rebounding average (eighth in C-USA), followed by Nigel Spikes at 5.6 rpg.

Kane is tops on the team with 71 assists, while Shaquille Johnson has a team-high 19 steals. The Thundering Herd have three players that shoot 35 percent or better from the arc in Dago Pena (45.2 percent), Pitts (35.8 percent) and Kane (35.4 percent).

Marshall is shooting 45.5 percent from the floor, 34.8 percent from the three-point line and 66.3 percent from the charity stripe. The Thundering Herd are out-rebounding their opponents by an average margin of +4.1 boards per game (38.7-34.6).

Josh Pastner (Arizona, 1998) is in his second season as the head coach of the University of Memphis basketball program. The Kingwood, Texas, native was hired Apr. 7, 2009, after serving the 2008-09 season as an assistant on the Tiger staff.

With the Tigers' 16 wins in 2010-11, Pastner now has an overall record of 40-14 (.741 winning percentage).

In his first season in 2009-10, Pastner guided the Tigers to a 24-10 overall record and a 13-3 Conference USA mark. Memphis earned a National Invitation Tournament (NIT) berth and advanced to the postseason classic's second round.

Prior to joining the Memphis basketball family for the 2008-09 season, Pastner spent the previous 12 years of his college basketball life at Arizona as a player, staff member and assistant coach. While in Tucson, Pastner was a member of Wildcat squads that made 12-straight NCAA Tournament appearances and posted a 290-103 record (1997-2008). Pastner was a player on the 1996-97 Arizona team that won the NCAA title.

While Memphis head coach Josh Pastner grew up in Houston, Texas, and calls that city home, he was born in the state of West Virginia. Pastner's birthplace is Glendale, W.Va., which is approximately 150 miles northeast of Huntington (2.5 hour drive).

With the Tigers' 77-61 win over UCF Jan. 26, Josh Pastner recorded the 40th victory in his short tenure at Memphis. The UCF victory tied Pastner with Wayne Yates for the second-quickest to reach the 40-win plateau in the program's history. The following lists the Tiger head coaches that won 40 games the quickest:

Head Coach/Years	Game # for
40th Win
Bob Vanatta/1957-59 53 (40-13)
Josh Pastner/2010-11# 54 (40-14)
Wayne Yates/1975-76# 54 (40-14)
Gene Bartow/1971-73 55 (40-15)
Larry Finch/1987-88# 56 (40-16)
John Calipari/2001-02# 59 (40-19)
Dean Ehlers/1963-65 67 (40-27)
Eugene Lambert/1952-54 67 (40-27)
Dana Kirk/1981-82 71 (40-31)
# Reached 40th win in two seasons

During halftime of the Jan. 26 Memphis-UCF game, a school-record 196 student-athletes were recognized for earning a 3.0 grade-point average in the 2010 fall semester. Six of those 196 in the Tiger 3.0 Club are members of the Memphis basketball team, and they are Drew Barham, Will Barton, Trey Draper, Charles Holt, Joe Jackson and Preston Laird.

The Memphis coaching staff will be dressed a little differently Saturday when the Tigers play Marshall in Huntington, W.Va. Instead of the normal suit, dress shirt, tie and dress shoes, the coaches and staff will wear polo shirts, khaki pants and sneakers.

The wearing of sneakers is for the Coaches vs. Cancer® Sneakers awareness weekend Jan. 28-30 in demonstrating support for the American Cancer Society and its vision of a world with less cancer and more birthdays. Basketball fans are encouraged to also wear sneakers to games that weekend to show their support. This is the seventh-annual Coaches vs. Cancer® Sneakers awareness weekend.

Coaches vs. Cancer is a collaborative initiative of the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) that empowers coaches, their teams and local communities to make a difference in the fight against cancer.

Thanks to the dedicated efforts of college and high school coaches and fans throughout the nation, Coaches vs. Cancer participants have raised more than $60 million since 1993 to help the American Cancer Society fund groundbreaking cancer research, provide up-to-date cancer information and education, advocate for public health policies that benefit communities, and deliver services that improve the quality of life for patients and their families. Additional information is available at

For the first time since Conference USA realigned for the 2005-06 year, Memphis and Marshall play twice in regular season action. The two squads have already met one time this season, and the Tigers posted a 77-61 victory over the Thundering Herd on Jan. 15 in Memphis.

The Memphis-Marshall twice-a-season meetings are new to the league in 2010-11 as Conference USA went to a different scheduling format.

However, 2010-11 is not the first time the Tigers and Thundering Herd played twice in a season. In the 2006-07 campaign, the teams played a regular season game in Memphis (78-59 Tigers win) and then met in the Conference USA Tournament at FedExForum (92-71 Memphis win).

Well, on one hand, the Tigers would like it to be because they got the victory last time. But, on the other hand, Memphis had to battle, fight and claw to get that win.

We're talking about the Memphis-Marshall clash in 2005-06. But, a couple of weeks before that meeting, the Thundering Herd pulled an upset, defeating in-state rival and No. 9 nationally-ranked West Virginia 58-52 in Charleston, W.Va., on Jan. 25, 2006. Then, 16 days later on Feb. 11, 2006, Memphis played before a sellout crowd in Huntington and fell behind to Marshall by 11 points in the first half. The home team held a lead until the 16-minute mark of the second half, before a 15-0 run gave the Tigers the lead for good en route to a hard-fought 91-81 win.

Now, fast-forward to this season. On Jan. 19, 2011, Marshall met its in-state rival West Virginia in Charleston, and the Thundering Herd defeated the No. 21 Mountaineers 75-71 for the upset win. This Saturday, the Tigers travel to Huntington just 10 days after that huge Marshall win.

While it hasn't been pretty, the 2010-11 Tigers posted a 16-4 record in their first 20 games. The 16-4 record tied for the fifth-best, 20-game start to a season the last 20 years.

The best 20-game start was the perfect 20-0 record in the 2007-08 season, which ended in a trip to the NCAA championship game. The other three better 20-game starts were 2005-06 (18-2 record), 2006-07 (17-3) and 2008-09 (17-3). The following shows the 20-game starts for each season since 1991-92:

20-Game Starts/Last 20 Years
Year Record Year Record
2010-11 16-4% 2000-01 12-8
2009-10 15-5 1999-2000 9-11
2008-09 17-3 1998-99 10-10
2007-08 20-0# 1997-98 12-8
2006-07 17-3 1996-97 11-9
2005-06 18-2 1995-96 16-4
2004-05 11-9 1994-95 15-5
2003-04 16-4 1993-94 9-11
2002-03 1505 1992-93 13-7
2001-02 16-4 1991-92 13-7
# Best start last 20 yrs; % Fifth-best start last 20 years

The scoreboard operator better have his fingers ready to go on Saturday as Memphis and Marshall have two of Conference USA's top three scoring offenses. The Tigers are second in the league with a 78.0 scoring average, while the Thundering Herd are third in C-USA with a 74.4 average.

If fans are looking for a lot of three-pointers on Saturday, they may be disappointed. Memphis and Marshall are two of Conference USA's worse three-point shooting teams in terms of percentage. The Tigers are eighth in C-USA in three-point field goal percentage at 35.4 percent from the arc, while the Thundering Herd are ninth at 34.8 percent.

Marshall also leads the league in three-point field goal percentage defense at 28.9 percent.

While the Tigers are eighth in Conference USA in three-point field percentage at 32.6 percent, Memphis has picked up its "game" in defending the arc the last four contests. In the games since Jan. 15 (Marshall, Southern Miss, UAB, UCF), the Tigers have held opponents to 17.4 percent shooting (12-of-69) from the arc, and the following shows that:

Opponent	3P-A	Opponent	3P-A
Marshall 4-18 UAB 2-23
USM 5-13 UCF 1-15

For Memphis, it may come on the defensive end in blocked shots and steals. The Tigers are second in Conference USA in blocked shots (5.4 bpg) and first in the league in steals (9.6 spg). The Thundering Herd are fifth in blocks (4.2 bpg) and 11th in steals (5.3 spg).

On the Marshall side, the advantage it will attempt to exploit is on the glass. The Thundering Herd are fourth in C-USA in rebounding margin at +4.1 (38.7-34.6). The Tigers are eight at +1.2 (36.7-35.5).

It's not a surprise that head coach Josh Pastner has had to juggle his starting lineup in 2010-11 with injuries, additions and subtraction of players and the overall youth of the squad. According research by USC Upstate SID Alex Edwards, the Tigers are third in the nation in using different starting lineups, and the following shows that (top five teams listed below):

Team	No. of Different Lineups
Pepperdine 14
Saint Louis 13
Memphis 12
Sacramento State 12
Cal State Fullerton 11

The Tigers played another nail-biter in their 76-73 overtime victory over UAB Jan. 22, but Memphis fans should be familiar with close-call contests. In just under two years in head coach Josh Pastner's tenure, the Tigers have played 23 single-digit outcome games, and have a 16-7 record (.696 winning percentage) in those contests.

In games decided by four or fewer points, Memphis is 8-2, winning the last eight. This season, the Tigers have a 9-1 record in single-digit outcome games.

Head coach Josh Pastner announced Jan. 20 that junior Wesley Witherspoon was reinstated to the team. However, the Atlanta, Ga., native is not expected to see action this week as a result of lingering soreness from his right knee injury.

On Jan. 13, Pastner announced that Witherspoon had been suspended indefinitely for an internal matter. He did not play in the Jan. 15 Marshall and Jan. 19 Southern Miss contests.

The 6-foot-9 forward is Memphis' second-leading scorer (11.5 ppg) and leading rebounder (4.9 rpg). On Dec. 10, Witherspoon underwent surgery for a right knee meniscal tear and was expected to miss up to five weeks of action. He, however, returned 13 days later and played in the Tigers' Dec. 23 game versus Georgetown.

For the fourth time this season, a Memphis player recorded a double-double. The latest was senior forward Will Coleman's 19-point, 11-rebound performance in the Tigers' 77-61 win over Marshall Jan. 15. The following tracks the Tigers' double-doubles throughout the 2010-11 campaign:

Player/Opponent	Dbl-Dbl
Coleman/Marshall 19-11
Witherspoon/Lipscomb 28-14
Stephens/Western Kentucky 13-11
Witherspoon/NW State 24-12

While Memphis has had a lot of success in December since 1999-2000, January has proven to be a better month for the Tigers. Since 1999-2000, the Tigers have an impressive 78-19 record (.804 winning percentage) in the month of January. Memphis has won 46 of its last 51 January games (.902 winning percentage).

For more notes on the Memphis-Marshall game, click on issuu and pdf links at the top of the page.



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