Feb. 14, 2014
|| #20 Memphis (19-5, 8-3) at #24 Connecticut (19-5, 7-4)
||Saturday, February 15 - 11 a.m. CT | XL Center/Hartford, Conn.
|| How to Follow
Tigers On TV/Radio/Web
Television: ESPN (Mike Patrick, play-by-play; Len Elmore, analyst)/Memphis Comcast channel 23
Radio: WREC 600 AM (Dave Woloshin, play-by-play; Matt Dillon, color analyst; Forrest Goodman, studio host)
The Last Meeting
January 16, 2014
No. 17 Memphis Drops 83-73 Decision to UConn
A tie game with 5:22 to play, UConn (14-3, 2-2 American) was a perfect 7-of-7 from the field and 6-of-6 from the charity stripe the rest of the way as it handed the No. 17 University of Memphis men's basketball team (12-4, 3-2 American) an 83-73 loss Thursday night at FedExForum.
SETTING THE SCENE
Memphis (19-5, 8-3 The American) opens a short two-game road trip Feb. 15 when it travels to Hartford, Conn., to face Connecticut (19-5, 7-4 The American).
ESPN is televising Saturday's 11 a.m. (CT) American Athletic Conference encounter from the XL Center. The Memphis-Connecticut game also is available via the web at ESPN3.com/WatchESPN.
The Tigers wrapped up a three-game homestand with a perfect 3-0 record. Memphis posted wins over Rutgers 101-69 Feb. 4, No. 23 Gonzaga 60-54 Feb. 8 and UCF 76-70 Feb. 12 in the homestand.
The Tigers remained in the Associated Press (AP) poll released Feb. 10. Memphis has appeared in all 15 AP polls this season. Memphis jumped back in the USA Today coaches poll at No. 22. Connecticut is ranked No. 24 in the AP poll and is in the Also Receiving Votes portion of the coaches poll (No. 26).
Memphis enters Saturday's encounter having won eight of its last 10 games. The Tigers' two setbacks in their last 10 contests were to Connecticut 83-73 and SMU 87-72.
The Tigers are 4-2 in true road games in 2013-14 and are 7-3 in contests played away from FedExForum (road/neutral).
Memphis returns three starters, but only five letterwinners from last year's squad.
Connecticut splits its home schedule between Gampel Pavilion in Storrs and the XL Center in Hartford.
The Huskies are 5-1 at the XL Center in 2013-14.
Overall, Connecticut has a 12-2 record in home games this season.
WHAT THE HUSKIES DID A YEAR AGO
Connecticut posted a 20-10 overall record and a 10-8 BIG EAST Conference mark in 2012-13. The Huskies tied for seventh place in the BIG EAST Conference regular-season standings. Connecticut was ineligible for 2013 postseason play.
SCOUTING THE HUSKIES
Connecticut enters Saturday's American Athletic Conference contest with a 19-5 overall record and a 7-4 league mark.
The Huskies have won five of their last six, including wins over UCF and USF in their last two outings.
Four of the five Connecticut setbacks were by single digits.
The Huskies opened the 2013-14 season with nine-consecutive victories.
Connecticut was picked to finish second in the preseason conference coaches poll.
Shabazz Napier was a unanimous pick to the 2013-14 preseason All-American Athletic Conference first team. Ryan Boatright was named to the preseason all-league second team.
Napier leads three Huskies averaging double figures at 17.3 ppg (fourth in The American).
DeAndre Daniels (13.5 ppg) and Boatright (12.0 ppg) are Connecticut's other two double-figure scorers.
Napier is the squad's top rebounder (5.9 rpg; 13th in The American) and top playmaker (5.5 apg; first in The American).
Napier also leads the Huskies and is fourth in The American in steals (1.8 spg; 43 total).
Three Huskies -- Niels Giffey (51.6 percent), Daniels (45.7) and Napier (42.2) -- shoot over 40 percent from the three-point arc.
Connecticut is shooting 46.5 percent from the field, 40 percent from the arc and 76.8 percent from the free throw line.
Among the NCAA team statistical leaders, UConn is 11th in three-point field goal and sixth in free throw percentage.
The Huskies are out-rebounding their opponents by a margin of +2.5 boards per game (36.8-34.3).
Head coach Kevin Ollie is in his second season at Connecticut. He has a 39-15 record at the school.
A FIRST FOR THE TIGERS
For the first time in its history, Memphis is playing a game in the state of Connecticut Saturday when the Tigers face the Huskies in Hartford.
In its history, Memphis has played NCAA Division I schools from Connecticut five previous times. However, all five encounters were played either in Memphis or on a neutral court.
TIGERS VERSUS CONNECTICUT SCHOOLS
In their history, the Tigers have played four of the seven NCAA Division I schools from the state of Connecticut.
Memphis has a 3-2 record (.600 winning percentage) against NCAA Division I programs located in the state of Connecticut.
The Tigers have played Central Connecticut (0-1), Connecticut (1-1), Fairfield (1-0) and Yale (1-0). Memphis has not played Hartford, Quinnipiac and Sacred Heart.
TIGERS NOT NEW TO NEW ENGLAND REGION
While it's their first trip to the state of Connecticut, it's not the Tigers' first trip to the New England region of the United States.
The states that comprise the New England region are: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.
Saturday's game at Connecticut is Memphis' fourth trip to the region in its history.
The Tigers are 1-2 in their previous three trips to New England.
Memphis' last trip to New England came in head coach Josh Pastner's first season in 2009-10. The Tigers dropped a heart-breaking 73-72 loss to UMass at the Garden in Boston, Mass.
Memphis' other two trips to New England came in 2005-06 to Rhode Island (defeated Providence 97-89) and 1995-96 to Massachusetts (lost to UMass 64-61).
Saturday's game is the third time Memphis is traveling to New England as a ranked team. The Tigers were ranked No. 3 in the 1995-96 match-up with UMass and No. 7 in 2005-06 against Providence.
IT'S AN NCAA RING THING
Both head coaches in Saturday's Memphis-Connecticut match-up have NCAA title rings.
Memphis head coach Josh Pastner won his NCAA title as a player on the 1996-97 Arizona squad. Arizona defeated Kentucky for the championship.
Connecticut head coach Kevin Ollie won his NCAA championship ring in 2010-11 as an assistant on Jim Calhoun's staff. The Huskies defeated Butler 53-41 for the crown.
HOMECOMING FOR A TIGER
For one Memphis Tiger, Saturday's game is a homecoming. That Tiger is freshman Kuran Iverson, who calls Hartford, Conn., home.
Iverson played two seasons (2010-11, 2011-12) at Northwest Catholic High School in West Hartford, Conn.
The 6-foot-10, 209-pound forward/guard was the 2011-12 Hartford Courant Player of the Year and was a two-time New Haven Register All-State pick.
Iverson helped lead Northwest Catholic to consecutive appearances in the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) Class L state title game appearances.
He netted over 1,000 points in his Northwest Catholic career.
HOMECOMING SUCCESS FOR MEMPHIS
Memphis has been rather successful in homecoming games this season.
Although he is sitting out 2013-14, RaShawn Powell is from Orlando, Fla., and Memphis has played four games in Orlando this season.
The Tigers won all four games in Orlando, making them 4-0 in homecoming games in 2013-14.
BATTLE ON THE GLASS
Saturday's match-up features a battle on the glass between two teams ranked in the middle of the league in rebound margin.
The Tigers are fourth in the league with a +2.8 rebound margin, while Connecticut is sixth at +2.5.
And, in league games only, Memphis and Connecticut are in the top-three in the conference.
In league games only (11 games), the Huskies are first at +4.9. The Tigers are third at +2.1 in rebound margin in conference games only.
In the Jan. 16 meeting, Connecticut won the board battle 34-27.
In four of their five setbacks, the Tigers lost the rebound battle. The only time Memphis won the battle on the glass yet lost the game was against Cincinnati Jan. 4 (41-38 lead on glass).
BATTLE OF SHOOTING WILLS
Saturday's contest may come down to which team wins the shooting battles from the field and arc.
In the field goal percentage match-up, the Tigers are second in the American Athletic Conference at 48.1 percent. However, Connecticut is the league's second-best field goal percentage defense squad, holding its opponents to 38.3 percent.
From the arc, the Huskies lead The American and are 11th in the nation with a 40 three-point field goal percentage. But, Memphis has the conference's best three-point field goal percentage defense at 29.5 percent.
IF THERE IS AN ADVANTAGE...
For the Tigers, it may come on in sharing and swiping the ball. Memphis averages over four more assists per game (17.7-13.3) and two more steals per game (9.3-7.2) than Connecticut.
For the Huskies, their advantage comes at the free throw line. Connecticut leads The American and is sixth in the nation in free throw percentage (76.8). On the other side, Memphis is ninth in the league in free throw percentage (65.3).
PASTNER FASTEST TO 125 WINS
With the Tigers' 76-70 win over UCF Feb. 12, Josh Pastner reached the 125-victory milestone the quickest of any head coach in the program's history.
The following lists the Memphis head coaches quickest to 125 wins:
Head Coach/Years Game # for 125th Win
Josh Pastner/2010-14 164 (125-39)
Dana Kirk/1980-85 173 (125-48)
John Calipari/2001-06 180 (125-55)
Larry Finch/1987-92 192 (125-67)
Zach Curlin/1924-41 269 (125-144)
MOST WINS IN FIRST FIVE YEARS
Of course, head coach Josh Pastner will pass on credit to the current players, former players, current assistant coaches, former head coaches and, yes, even Tiger Nation.
But, the fact is Pastner is the winningest head coach in Tigers hoops history for the first five years.
The following shows the head coaches' win totals for their first five seasons since 1949:
Head Coach First 5 Years Wins Total
Josh Pastner* 2010-14 125
John Calipari 2001-05 115
Larry Finch 1987-91 102
Dana Kirk 1980-84 99
Bob Vanatta 1957-61 94
Wayne Yates 1975-79 93
Eugene Lambert 1952-56 87
*Pastner's fifth season still in progress
TIGERS GOING FOR 14TH 20-WIN SEASON
With their next victory, the Tigers will post a 14th-straight, 20-win season. Memphis enters Saturday's game with a 19-5 record.
Last season, the Tigers set the record for consecutive 20-win seasons with their 13th straight. The previous record of 12-consecutive, 20-win seasons was from 1982-93.
The 2013-14 Tigers also will attempt to add to the program's current school record of 13-straight postseason bids (9 NCAA, 4 NIT). Last season, Memphis advanced to the NCAA Tournament third round.
Prior to this current record run of 13-straight postseason berths, Memphis had two six-year stretches in which it reached the postseason.
The previous two six-year postseason spans were 1972-77 (2 NCAA, 4 NIT) and 1988-93 (4 NCAA, 2 NIT). The run from 1972-77 included the 1973 NCAA title game appearance. The 1988-93 postseason stretch included an NCAA Tournament Elite Eight appearance in 1992.
The following shows the top-five longest streaks of 20-win seasons in Tigers history:
Consec. 20-Win Seasons Yrs.
HOLD OUR SPOT!
Memphis is among the winningest NCAA Division I programs since 2000-01 and 2005-06, but it doesn't end there.
With their next victory, the Tigers would have a 20-win season and would stay a member of another elite group at the NCAA Division I level.
Entering 2013-14, Memphis was one of nine programs that had won 20 or more games each of the last 11 seasons.
The following lists the nine NCAA Division I programs that have 20 or more wins the each of the last 11 years (2002-03 to 2012-13; *indicates teams have won 20 games in 2013-14):
Kansas Utah State