Memphis Basketball Notes
Go Tigers!
Go Tigers!

Go Tigers!

Feb. 21, 2011

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Tigers On TV/Radio/Web
Television: CBS College Sports (CBS C)/Comcast digital channel 222 (Tom McCarthy, play-by-play; Pete Gillen, color analyst)
Radio: WREC 600 AM (Dave Woloshin, play-by-play; Matt Dillon, color analyst; Forrest Goodman, studio host)
Web: None

The University of Memphis squad (20-7, 8-4 C-USA) returns home to the friendly confines of FedExForum Tuesday, Feb. 22 when it hosts Houston (12-13, 4-8 C-USA) in a Conference USA contest. Game time is 8 p.m. (CT).

The Memphis-Houston match-up is slated to air on CBS College Sports (Memphis Comcast digital channel 222).

After dropping its February opener to Tulsa 68-65 at FedExForum on Feb. 2, Memphis bounced back with four-consecutive, single-digit victories over Gonzaga 62-58 Feb. 5, UCF 63-62 Feb. 9, Southern Miss 67-61 Feb. 12 and UAB 62-58 Feb. 16. The Tigers' win streak came to an end at Rice Feb. 19 with a 67-52 loss to the Owls.

The Gonzaga and UCF victories came on the road. The home loss to Tulsa was only the second C-USA setback for the Tigers at home since 2005-06 (43-2 record; .956 winning percentage).

The Tigers closed the January portion of their Conference USA schedule with a 5-2 mark. Memphis was 3-0 at FedExForum with victories over East Carolina 61-58 Jan. 8, Marshall 77-61 Jan. 15 and UCF 77-61 Jan. 26. On the road in league play, the Tigers went 2-2 in January, posting wins at Southern Miss 76-75 Jan. 19 and UAB 76-73 (ot) Jan. 22 and dropping decisions at SMU 64-58 Jan. 12 and Marshall 85-70 Jan. 29.

Houston enters Tuesday's game having lost seven of its last eight games. The Cougars' lone victory in the recent stretch was a 79-68 win over Tulane. Houston fell in its last outing Feb. 19, a 76-64 setback at UTEP.

Houston brings a 12-13 overall record and a 4-8 Conference USA mark into Tuesday's game at FedExForum. The Cougars have lost seven of their last eight games, with the lone victory a 79-68 win over Tulane. Houston fell in its last outing Feb. 19, a 76-64 setback at UTEP.

The senior tandem of Adam Brown and Maurice McNeil leads the Cougars' offense. Brown is the team's top scorer at 13.3 ppg, followed by McNeil at 13.2 ppg. Houston has three players averaging over five boards per game in McNeil (7.8 rpg), Alandise Harris (5.2 rpg) and Kendrick Washington (5.2 rpg).

Zamal Nixon leads the team in assists (120; 4.8 apg) and steals (47; 1.9 spg). Nixon is ranked third in assists and second in steals among the Conference USA statistical leaders. Brown (44.7 percent) and Darian Thibodeaux (42.5 percent) are the Cougars' top three-point threats.

Houston is shooting 45.8 percent from the floor, 38.7 percent from the three-point arc and 66.1 percent from the charity stripe. Opponents are out-rebounding the Cougars by an average margin of +1.5 boards per game (34.4-35.9).

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' 20 wins in 2010-11, Pastner now has an overall record of 44-17 (.721 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.

With their 62-58 victory over UAB Feb. 16, the Tigers recorded their 11th-straight, 20-win season. Memphis' record currently stands at 20-7. The current string of 11-straight, 20-win campaigns from 2001-11 is the longest streak of its kind in Memphis basketball history. The following shows the top-five longest streaks of 20-win seasons in Tiger history:

	Consec. 20-Win Seasons	Yrs.
	11	2001-11
	8	1982-89
	3	1975-77
	2	4 different spans
		(1995-96, 1992-93,
		1972-73, 1956-57)

With the Tigers' 62-58 victory over UAB Feb. 16, it was not only Memphis' 11th-consecutive season with 20 wins, but also head coach Josh Pastner's second-straight, 20-win campaign in as many seasons.

Pastner is only the fourth head coach in Memphis hoops history to have 20-win seasons in his first two years at the helm. The other three coaches to do so were Wayne Yates, Larry Finch and John Calipari, and the following shows that:

Head Coach/1st 2 Years	Records
Wayne Yates/1975-76, 1976-77	21-9, 20-9
Larry Finch/1986-87, 1987-88	26-8, 20-12
John Calipari/2000-01, 2001-02	21-15, 27-9
Josh Pastner/2009-10, 2010-11	24-10, 20-7

For the second time in four days, Memphis head coach Josh Pastner is facing a school from his hometown area when the Tigers host Houston Tuesday at FedExForum. Pastner's Tigers dropped a 67-52 decision at Rice Feb. 19.

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 ball team during his high school and collegiate (Arizona) days.

It's hard to believe that anyone is any "newer" to Conference USA than Memphis head coach Josh Pastner, but during the 2010-11 season, he faces five first-year head coaches in the league. The next C-USA "newbie" Pastner meets is Houston head coach James Dickey Tuesday.

Dickey was hired during the 2010 off-season and is in his first year leading the Cougars' program. He previously served as the head coach of the Texas Tech program from 1991-2001. Dickey's most recent position was an assistant at Oklahoma State from 2002-08.

Two more "newbies" remain on the Memphis schedule this season in UTEP's Tim Floyd Feb. 26 and Tulane's Ed Conroy Mar. 5. This year, Pastner has a 2-1 record in his C-USA "newbie" games versus East Carolina Jeff Lebo (1-0) and Marshall's Tom Herrion (1-1).

Yes, the Tigers and Cougars are playing on the court at FedExForum Tuesday, but there is also a reunion of Cowboys on the two benches. That's Cowboys, as in Oklahoma State Cowboys.

Memphis assistant coach Glynn Cyprien and Houston head coach James Dickey both were on Eddie Sutton's staff from 2002-04. Cyprien was a Cowboys' assistant from 2000-04, while Dickey was in Stillwater, Okla., from 2002-08.

In their two seasons (2002-03, 2003-04) together on staff, Cyprien and Dickey helped Oklahoma State to a 53-14 record, a sweep of the the 2003-04 Big 12 Conference regular season and tournament titles and a trip to the 2004 NCAA Final Four. In fact, the Cowboys defeated Memphis on their way to the Final Four. Oklahoma State posted a 70-53 win over the Tigers in the NCAA Tournament second round.

Another member of the Memphis coaching staff is very familiar with the Houston program. Tiger assistant coach Willis Wilson served as head coach at Rice University, also located in Houston, from 1992-2008 and faced the Cougars 22 times during his tenure. Houston held a narrow 12-10 edge in the crosstown rivalry meetings while Wilson was at Rice.

With the Tigers' next victory, Josh Pastner will record the 45th victory in his short tenure at Memphis. The following lists the Tiger head coaches that won 45 games the quickest (since World War II):

Head Coach/Years	Game # for 45th Win
Bob Vanatta/1957-59	58 (45-13)
Wayne Yates/1975-77	61 (45-16)
Josh Pastner/2010-11***	61 (44-17)
Gene Bartow/1971-73	63 (45-18)
Larry Finch/1987-88#	64 (45-19)
John Calipari/2001-02#	69 (45-24)
Eugene Lambert/1952-54	75 (45-30)
Dana Kirk/1981-82	76 (45-31)
Dean Ehlers/1963-65	78 (45-33)
# Reached 45th win in two seasons
*** Needs one more victory for No. 45

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, what's on the horizon is that Pastner is close to becoming the winningest head coach in Tiger hoops history for the first two years. The following shows the head coaches' win totals for the first two seasons since World War II:

Head Coach	First 2 Years	Wins Total
John Calipari	2000-01, 2001-02	48
Larry Finch	1986-87, 1987-88	46
Josh Pastner	2009-10, 2010-11	44
Wayne Yates	1974-75, 1975-76	41
Gene Bartow	1970-71, 1971-72	39
Bob Vanatta	1956-57, 1957-58	39
Eugene Lambert	1951-52, 1952-53	35
Dean Ehlers	1962-63, 1963-64	33
Tic Price	1997-98, 1998-99	30
Dana Kirk	1979-80, 1980-81	26
Moe Iba	1966-67, 1967-68	25
McCoy Tarry	1948-49, 1949-50	23

For the first time since Conference USA went to a 16-game schedule in 2006-07, Memphis and Houston are scheduled for only one regular season meeting. The Memphis-Houston "once-a-season" encounter is new to the league in 2010-11 as Conference USA went to a different scheduling format.

The previous four seasons, the Tigers and Cougars tangled at least twice per year. In the 2006-07, 2008-09 and 2009-10 campaigns, Memphis and Houston played three times, with two regular season encounters and one C-USA Tournament meeting.

The Tigers played another nail-biter in their 62-58 Conference USA win over UAB Feb. 16, 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 28 single-digit outcome games, and have a 20-8 record (.714 winning percentage) in those contests.

In games decided by four or fewer points, Memphis is 11-3, winning 11 of its last 12. This season, the Tigers have a 13-2 record in single-digit outcome games.

Tiger Nation is enjoying the wins this season, but the victories by single-digit margins are causing most fans to remain on the edge of their seats. Memphis has played 15 single-digit outcome games this year and has a 13-2 record in those contests.

However, the 15 single-digit outcome games so far in 2010-11 are not even in the top-10 for most games of its kind since the 1970-71 season. The following lists the top-10 years with single-digit outcome games and the top-10 years with single-digit wins (since 1970-71; research by Matt Dillon):

Top-10 Since 1970-71
	Most Single-Digit	Most Single-Digit
	Outcome Games	Wins
	1.	20 (1986-87)^	1.	14 (1984-85)@
	2.	19 (2000-01)	2.	13 (2010-11)
	t.	19 (1996-97)	t.	13 (1986-87)^
	t.	19 (1992-93)#	t.	13 (1977-78)
	t.	19 (1990-91)	5.	12 (1994-95)#
	t.	19 (1977-78)	t.	12 (1992-93)#
	7.	18 (1991-92)#	t.	12 (1991-92)#
	t.	18 (1987-88)#	8.	11 (7 seasons)
	t.	18 (1984-85)@
	18.	15 (2010-11)
# Made NCAA Tournament
@ NCAA Final Four	^ Not eligible for postseason play

Since the new year began, head coach Josh Pastner has stressed to his young squad that it is an "inside-out" team. In other words, Pastner wants to work the post and get in the lane to set up the perimeter shots from long range.

The numbers prove Pastner correct that Memphis is an "inside-out" team. To further prove his point, Will Barton's, Tarik Black's and Will Coleman's all are better when the Tigers play "inside-out". The following numbers offer proof:

Since Jan. 5, 2011
	8-0 Record	Stat	1-5 Record
	53.5	Team 2-pt. FG Pct.	48.7
	32.8	Team 3-pt. FG Pct.	27.3
	70.0	Team Scoring/Game	65.0
	49.5	Barton FG Pct.	41.1
	61.6	Barton Pct. of 2-pt. FG	57.1
	48.5	Black FG Pct.	51.3
	8.5	Black FGA/Game	6.5
	68.1	Coleman FG Pct.	54.2
	5.9	Coleman FGA/Game	4.0
	176	Trio Combined 2-pt. FGA	95

Scoring points should not be a concern in Tuesday's Memphis-Houston match-up. The Tigers and Cougars are the last two teams in Conference USA in scoring defense. Memphis is allowing foes to average 69.2 points (12th in C-USA), while opponents are averaging 68.2 points against Houston (11th in C-USA).

After a rough first year at their new home in 2004-05, the Tigers bounced back quite nicely and has made FedExForum one of the toughest arenas for opponents to play in. The Tigers have a 125-15 overall record (.893 winning percentage) at FedExForum. Since the 2005 Conference USA Tournament, Memphis has won 115 of its last 124 home games (.927 winning percentage).

With its 62-58 win over UAB Feb. 16, Memphis posted its 125th win at FedExForum. The Tigers' current record at FedExForum is 125-15.

Memphis is averaging 17.9 wins per season at FedExForum (seven seasons). The following lists the Tigers' homecourts since World War II, the overall record and average wins per season:

Home Arena	Record/Yrs.	Avg. Wins/Yr.
FedExForum	125-15 (2005-pres)	17.9/7 yrs
The Pyramid	173-42 (1992-2004)	13.3/13 yrs
Mid-South Col.	343-90 (1965-91)	13.2/26 yrs
Fieldhouse	125-17 (1952-64)	10.4/12 yrs

Well, Memphis head coach Josh Pastner will say the Tigers have the best homecourt advantage due to the great Tiger Nation fanbase. But, he also has some numbers to back him up.

Since 2004-05, Memphis has won 125 games at FedExForum, the most home wins in the country over that span of time. The following are the top three programs with the most home wins since 2004-05 (credit to Texas A&M SID for compiling this list):

Most Home Wins
(Since 2004-05 to present)
	1.	Memphis	125
	2.	Kansas	117
	3.	Texas A&M	111

Since moving to FedExForun in 2004-05, Memphis has turned its homecourt into one of toughest arenas for opponents to play, and that is seen in the Tigers' 125-15 overall record at home. But, it is even tougher for Conference USA foes since conference realignment in 2005-06.

Memphis has an incredible 43-2 record (.956 winning percentage) at FedExForum versus C-USA opponents in the regular season since 2005-06. If the four C-USA Tournaments held at FedExForum from 2006-09 are added, the Tigers' home mark is 55-2 (.965 winning percentage).

The following shows some of the nation's top conference homecourt records since 2005-06 (regular season only):

Best Homecourt Records In
Conference Play Only (Since 2005-06)
	BYU	44-2
	Memphis	43-2
	Butler	45-3
	Utah State	45-3
	Kansas	43-3
	Gonzaga	39-3
	Xavier	42-4
	Wisconsin	45-5
	Old Dominion	45-5
	Texas	42-5
	Pittsburgh	40-5
	Belmont	50-6
	Ohio State	43-6
	Duke	39-7

Well, the league's schedule-maker likes a little tweaking after five years, so the 2010-11 Conference USA slate takes on a different look with divisional play without separating into divisions.

What remains the same in C-USA are the one division standings and the 16-game league schedule for all teams. However, the change comes in who plays who.

This season, C-USA basketball plays a schedule based on divisions similar to the set-up in football. Teams in the East (East Carolina, Marshall, Memphis, Southern Miss, UAB, UCF) and West (Houston, Rice, SMU, Tulane, Tulsa, UTEP) play each other twice. The teams cross over and play squads in the other division once.

The Tigers have an all-time record of 185-61 (.752 winning percentage) in Conference USA play. Memphis posted double-digit league wins in 12 of its previous 15 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 finished second in the Conference USA regular season standings with a 13-3 league mark. The 13 C-USA wins were tied for the fourth-most for a season in school history, only trailing the three 16-win campaigns (16-0 record) in 2006-07, 2007-08 and 2008-09. The 2009-10 team's 13 C-USA wins tied the 2002-03 (13-3 record) and 2005-06 (13-1) squads for the fourth-most league victories in a campaign.

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.

While the Tigers have enjoyed success in the month of January (78-20; .796 winning percentage) since 1999-2000, February hasn't been too bad either over that same period of time. Since 1999-2000, Memphis has a 68-20 record (.773 winning percentage) in February.

Last year, the Tigers posted a 6-2 record in February. Memphis has won 39 of its last 44 games (.886 winning percentage) in the month of February, with the five setbacks to No. 2/2 Tennessee 66-62 on Feb. 23, 2008, No. 17/13 Gonzaga 66-58 on Feb. 6, 2010, Houston 92-75 on Feb. 24, 2010, Tulsa 68-65 on Feb. 2, 2011, and Rice 67-52 on Feb. 19, 2011.

While the Tigers are fifth in Conference USA in three-point field percentage at 31.9 percent, Memphis has picked up its "game" in defending the arc the last 11 contests. In the games since Jan. 15 (Marshall twice, Southern Miss twice, UAB twice, UCF twice, Tulsa, Gonzaga, Rice), the Tigers have held opponents to 25.5 percent shooting (50-of-196) from the arc, and the following shows that:

Opponent	3P-A	Opponent	3P-A
Marshall	4-18	@Gonzaga	6-20
@USM	5-13	@UCF	8-16
@UAB	2-23	USM	4-18
UCF	1-15	UAB	5-21
@Marshall	7-22	@Rice	4-11
Tulsa	4-19

The Tigers have the most newcomers on the team for the first time since the 1972-73 season. Memphis has eight newcomers on its roster (seven freshmen, one transfer) in 2010-11. The 1972-73 Tigers had 10 newcomers on their roster, and many of those were available because 1972-73 was the first year of freshmen eligibility.

That 1972-73 Memphis squad advanced to the NCAA national title game.

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 this year, and the following shows that (top five teams listed below):

Team	No. of Different Lineups
Pepperdine	15
Georgia State	15
Memphis	14
Saint Louis	13
USC Upstate	13

During the 2010 portion of the 2010-11 schedule, the Tigers had a couple of games where they racked up 20 or more assists and that translated into victories. So, head coach Josh Pastner was hoping to see his Tigers share the ball more often in the new year.

Memphis has shared the ball on occasion, but when the young Tigers don't dish out the dimes, it shows in the final score. The following shows the difference when Memphis shares and doesn't share the ball:

Since The New Year
	Ten Wins	Stat	Five Losses
	14.9	Asst/Game	10.8
	71.2	Pts/Game	65.8
	13.8	TO/Game	16.6
	65.3	Opponent Pts/Game	77.6
	1.1	Asst-TO Ratio	0.7

With Memphis starting three freshmen most games and playing five newbies a lot of minutes, it is expected that over 50 percent of the scoring is falling on their shoulders. Well, it is.

In research done by University of North Dakota men's hoops contact and former Memphis media relations graduate assistant Ryan Powell, Memphis is one of three schools in NCAA Division I to get over 60 percent of its scoring from freshmen. To be exact, the Tigers are getting 62.7 percent of their points from freshmen.

The following shows the three NCAA Division I schools getting over 60 percent of their scoring from freshmen and also the total points from freshmen:

School	Pct.	Freshman Total Pts
North Dakota	65.7	1,113
Kentucky	63.6	1,286
Memphis	62.8	1,255

No one wants to hear how young the 2010-11 Memphis team is anymore with the end of the regular season approaching. However, entering the campaign, the Tigers had the seventh-youngest squad out of 346 NCAA Division I programs, according to

Memphis is one of only four teams to be ranked in the top-25 national polls at some time this season with a top-50 youngest team. Connecticut (12th), Kentucky (36th) and North Carolina (40th) are the other three schools with a top-50 young team that was also ranked in the top-25 of the national polls at some point during 2010-11.

The next youngest team in Conference USA is UCF at 102. Tuesday's foe, Houston, is the 223rd-youngest team in the nation (the 74th-most experienced team in the nation). The following lists the top-10 youngest teams and where the C-USA schools fall on the list:

	Top-10 Youngest	C-USA on Youngest List
	1.	Nevada	7.	Memphis
	2.	Stetson	102.	UCF
	3.	Toledo	116.	Tulsa
	4.	Georgia Southern	128.	UAB
	5.	Savannah State	198.	East Carolina
	6.	North Dakota	223.	Rice
	7.	Memphis	234.	Marshall
	8.	St. Louis	256.	Tulane
	9.	Michigan	273.	Houston
	10.	Robert Morris 	289.	Southern Miss
			297.	SMU
			330.	UTEP

For the first time since Jan. 12, Wesley Witherspoon saw game action in the Tigers' 62-58 win over UAB Feb. 16. In 15 minutes versus the Blazers, Witherspoon was 3-of-3 from the field for six points. He also played in the Tigers' Feb. 19 contest at Rice and had eight points and six boards in 23 minutes.

The 6-foot-9 forward last played in the Tigers' setback at SMU Jan. 12, but afterwards, was suspended for an internal matter. He did not play in the Jan. 15 Marshall and Jan. 19 Southern Miss contests.

Head coach Josh Pastner announced Jan. 20 that Witherspoon was reinstated to the team, but would not be immediately available to play as a result of lingering soreness in his knee. The Atlanta, Ga., native remained sidelined until Feb. 7 when he returned to the practice court for limited drills.

In the Tigers' Feb. 14 practice, Witherspoon went through the entire session, including contact drills. It was his first full practice since before the Jan. 12 SMU game.

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.



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