Dec. 30, 2013
|| #18/18 Memphis (9-2) at USF (9-4)
||Tuesday, December 31 - 6 p.m. CT | USF Sun Dome/Tampa, Fla.
|| How to Follow
Tigers On TV/Radio/Web
Television: ESPN2 (Rich Hollenberg, play-by-play; Mark Adams, analyst)/Memphis Comcast channel 24
Radio: WREC 600 AM (Dave Woloshin, play-by-play; Matt Dillon, color analyst; Forrest Goodman, studio host)
SETTING THE SCENE
Memphis (9-2, 0-0 The American) opens a new era in its basketball history Tuesday, Dec. 31 when it begins American Athletic Conference play at USF (9-4, 0-0 The American). ESPN2 is televising Tuesday's 6 p.m. (CT) contest from the USF Sun Dome in Tampa, Fla.
The Memphis-USF game also can be viewed via the web at ESPN3.com/WatchESPN.
The Tigers remained in both national polls. Memphis is in the No. 18 spot in the Dec. 30 Associated Press poll and No. 17 position USA Today Dec. 23 coaches poll. USF is not ranked.
Memphis enters Tuesday's contest having won eight of its last nine games. The eight victories came over Nicholls, Siena, LSU, No. 5/8 Oklahoma State, Northwestern State, UALR, Southeast Missouri and Jackson State. The Tigers' lone loss in that stretch was a narrow 77-75 setback to No. 16/17 Florida in the 2013 Jimmy V Classic.
The Tigers have a 0-1 record in true road games this season, but are 3-2 in contests played away from FedExForum (road/neutral).
Memphis returns three starters, but only five letterwinners from last year's squad.
USF is 6-2 in home games this season.
The Bulls have played nine single-digit outcome games and have a 6-3 record in those contests.
USF's last eight games have been decided by five or fewer points (5-3 record).
WHAT THE BULLS DID A YEAR AGO
USF posted a 12-19 overall record and a 3-15 BIG EAST Conference mark.
The Bulls finished 14th in the BIG EAST Conference regular-season standings.
USF dropped a 46-42 overtime decision to Seton Hall in the BIG EAST Conference Tournament opening round.
SCOUTING THE BULLS
USF brings a 9-4 record into its conference opener Tuesday.
The Bulls have won five of their last seven with the two setbacks single-digit, neutral-court losses to Mississippi State and Santa Clara.
USF has a 6-3 record in single-digit outcome games this season. The Bulls' last eight contests have been decided by single digits.
The Bulls were picked to finish eighth in the 2013-14 American Athletic Conference preseason coaches poll.
Anthony Collins and Victor Rudd both were named to the 2013-14 preseason American Athletic Conference second team. USF joined Louisville as the only two programs to have two players named to the league's preseason squads.
Rudd leads three Bulls averaging double figures at 16.2 ppg.
Corey Allen Jr. (12.4 ppg) and Chris Perry (10.2 ppg) also are averaging double digits in the scoring column.
USF has three players -- Rudd (7.2 rpg), John Egbunu (6.2 rpg), Perry (6.2 rpg) -- averaging over six boards per contest.
Collins leads the team with assists (47), but has missed the Bulls' last three games with swelling in his left knee. Allen Jr. is second on the squad with 44 assists.
Collins (38.9 percent) and Allen Jr. (34.5 percent) are USF's top threats from the arc.
The Bulls are shooting 45.6 percent from the field, 27.6 percent from the arc and 65.4 percent from the free throw line.
USF is out-rebounding its opponents by a narrow margin of +0.2 boards per game (36.9-36.7).
Stan Heath is in his seventh season at USF. The former Arkansas Razorbacks coach has a 94-114 record in Tampa.
CHARTING NEW WATERS
For the fourth time in school history, Memphis is a charter member of a new conference. The Memphis athletics program joined the American Athletic Conference July 1, 2013.
The American Athletic Conference is the fourth-consecutive league in which Memphis has been a charter member.
Memphis was a charter member of the Metro Conference in 1975, Great Midwest Conference in 1991 and Conference USA in 1995.
MAKE IT SIX FOR THE TIGERS
While The American is the fourth for Memphis as a charter member, the new league is the sixth overall for the Tigers.
The following shows the conferences Memphis was a member of and the years in each league:
American Athletic 2013-pres.
Conference USA 1995-2013
Great Midwest 1991-95
Missouri Valley 1967-74
Mississippi Valley 1928-33
THERE'S A FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING
Memphis plays its first game in the American Athletic Conference Tuesday when the Tigers play at USF.
In its previous five league "first-ever" games, Memphis has a 2-3 record.
The following shows the results of Memphis' "first-ever" games in each league:
"First-Ever" League Game Results
at USF/The American ------
Charlotte/C-USA 57-55, W
DePaul/Great Midwest (ot) 89-92, L
Louisville/Metro 74-79, L
at Bradley/Missouri Valley 52-80, L
at Delta State/Mississippi Valley 62-6, W
TIGERS IN OVERALL LEAGUE OPENERS
Memphis is playing its all-time 51st conference opener Tuesday at USF.
The Tigers' record in their previous 50 league openers is 32-18 (.640 winning percentage).
Memphis is 17-7 (.708 winning percentage) when its conference opener is at home and 15-11 (.577 winning percentage) when its league opener is on the road.
The Tigers have won their last nine league openers.
Memphis last lost a conference opener in the 2003-04 season, a 66-63 loss at Southern Miss Jan. 10, 2004 (Conference USA).
The following breaks down the Tigers' record in league openers by conference:
Conference Opener Record/Pct.
The American ------
Conference USA 14-4/.778
Great Midwest 2-2/.500
Missouri Valley 2-4/.333
Mississippi Valley 4-2/.667
MEMPHIS IN RECENT CONFERENCE ROAD OPENERS
Memphis has a 13-7 record (.650 winning pct.) in its previous 20 league road openers.
The Tigers won their last two conference road openers, both coming at UAB in 2011-12 and 2012-13.
The last time Memphis dropped a league road opener was in 2010-11, a 64-58 loss at SMU Jan. 12, 2011.
Prior to that 2010-11 conference road opener setback, Memphis had won six-straight league road openers.
PASTNER IN CONFERENCE ROAD OPENERS
Memphis head coach Josh Pastner has a 3-1 record in league road openers.
Pastner won his first conference road opener in 2009-10 with a 59-57 victory at Southern Miss Jan. 9, 2010.
Pastner's lone loss in a conference road opener was in 2010-11. The Tigers lost at SMU 64-58 on Jan. 12, 2011.
His last two conference road openers were wins at UAB in 2011-12 and 2012-13.
USF enters Tuesday's game having played nine single-digit outcome games, including eight by five or fewer points. The Bulls are 6-3 in their single-digit games.
Under head coach Josh Pastner, Memphis has been rather successful in single-digit outcome games.
Overall, Pastner's teams have a 41-20 record (.672 winning percentage) in games decided by single digits. His squads are 27-12 (.692 winning percentage) in games decided by five or fewer points.
The following charts Memphis' success in "close-call" games in the Pastner era:
Year 5 or Fewer Single-Digits
2013-14 1-0 2-0
2012-13 5-1 10-3
2011-12 4-5 6-7
2010-11 13-2 16-3
2009-10 4-4 7-7
Total 27-12 41-20
Pct. .692 .672
Memphis and USF have played one common opponent to date this season, and the following shows those results:
Memphis Opponent USF
80-101, L (A) Oklahoma St. 67-93, L (H)
73-68, W (N)
HIDE YOUR EYES!
If fans are coming to Tuesday's game to see three-pointers made, they may go away disappointed.
Tuesday's game features the two worst three-point shooting teams in the American Athletic Conference.
Memphis is ninth in The American in three-point field goal percentage (29.5) and USF is 10th (27.6).
The Tigers and Bulls also are the worst two teams in The American in three-pointers made per game. Memphis is ninth (4.6) and USF is 10th (3.6).
BATTLE OF (SCORING) WILLS
Tuesday's contest features a battle of scoring wills between Memphis and USF.
The Tigers enter the American Athletic Conference opener with the league's second-best scoring offense at 82.3 ppg.
On the other side, the Bulls have the conference's fifth-best scoring defense at 66.8 ppg.
The city of Memphis and its surrounding communities will be well represented in Tuesday's contest between the Tigers and Bulls.
The squads combine to have nine players from Memphis area on the two rosters.
USF has one player -- Martino Brock (Ridgeway HS) -- that calls the Bluff City home.
On the Tigers' side, eight players hail from the Memphis area. Chris Crawford, Markel Crawford, Trey Draper, Joe Jackson, Nick King and Jake McDowell all are from Memphis. Sophomore Anthony Cole is from Arlington and freshman Austin Nichols is from Collierville, both suburbs of Memphis.
HEY, WE KNOW YOU!
When Tigers fans look at the USF bench during Tuesday's game, they will see a familiar face.
Third-year Bulls assistant coach Steve Roccaforte previously served as an assistant at Memphis from 2000-03.
During his three seasons in the Bluff City, Roccaforte helped direct the Tigers to three-straight, 20-win seasons and three-consecutive postseason appearances (2001, 2002 NIT; 2003 NCAA).
Roccaforte was on staff when Memphis won the program's first postseason tournament championship with the 2002 NIT title.
21ST CENTURY SUCCESS IN THE STATE OF FLORIDA
In the 21st century, Memphis has been rather successful playing inside the Sunshine state lines.
The Tigers have a 12-2 record (.857 winning percentage) when playing NCAA Division I programs inside the Florida state lines since 2000-01.
Memphis is 4-0 versus USF, 4-1 versus UCF and 1-1 vs. Miami, Fla., and both losses were single-digit setbacks.
The Tigers' most-recent success in the state of Florida came a month ago at the 2013 Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla.
Memphis defeated Siena, LSU and No. 5/8 Oklahoma State to claim the Old Spice Classic crown. The tournament was played Nov. 28-Dec. 1.
TIGERS' NEW YEAR'S EVE SUCCESS
Memphis is opening American Athletic Conference play at USF New Year's Eve night in Tampa, Fla.
It is the fourth time in the last six years that the Tigers are playing a New Year's Eve game.
The last time Memphis played a New Year's Eve contest was in 2011-12, and the Tigers defeated Charlotte 67-58 at FedExForum.
Overall, Memphis has an 8-3 record (.727 winning percentage) when playing on New Year's Eve since World War II (see chart below).
Tigers On New Year's Eve (8-3 record)
Year Opponent (Site) Result
2011-12 Charlotte (H) 67-58, W
2009-10 Tennessee (H) 59-66, L
2008-09 Northeastern (H) 80-48, W
1992-93 Minnesota (A) 55-70, L
1977-78 Arkansas (H) 70-95, L
1975-76 Pepperdine (H) 90-82, W
1973-74 Murray State (H) 67-65, W (ot)
1971-72 Arkansas (H) 92-77, W
1970-71 UNLV (A) 83-76, W
1968-69 Brown (H) 70-52, W
1966-67 Yale (H) 57-43, W
CLOSING OUT THE OLD YEAR
The Tigers are closing out 2013 with a Dec. 31 game at USF, and they have done well in their final game of the calendar year since 1997-98.
The Tigers have a 13-3 record (.813 winning percentage) in their final game of the calendar year the past 16 campaigns.
Head coach Josh Pastner is 3-1 in final games of the calendar year.
Memphis won its final game of 2012 with a Dec. 30, 2012, victory over Loyola, Md., at FedExForum (78-64).
TIGERS' CONFERENCE ROAD SUCCESS SINCE 2005-06
Yes, Memphis is beginning play in a new league Tuesday when it opens American Athletic Conference play at USF.
But, let's take a look at Memphis' conference road success since 2005-06 (for league games only; all in Conference USA).
Memphis had a 54-10 conference road record (.844 winning percentage; includes regular season and tournament games) since 2005-06.
To take it further, the Tigers' 54 league road wins since 2005-06 were more than all 11 other league schools' home wins in conference play, and the following shows that:
Since 2005-06 (Conference Games Only)
Road Wins Home Wins
Memphis 54 UTEP 53
Southern Miss 45
East Carolina 24
MEMPHIS VERSUS THE AMERICAN
Although Tuesday's game is Memphis' first in the American Athletic Conference, the Tigers have faced the other nine league schools as non-conference foes or previous conference members.
The Tigers have a 141-113 all-time record (.555 winning percentage) against members of The American.
Memphis has played Cincinnati (31-36), Connecticut (1-0), Houston (27-12), Louisville (34-53), SMU (11-3), Temple (5-5), UCF (14-1) and USF (18-3).
SHOOTING 50 OR ABOVE
David Pellom doesn't shoot the ball much. But, when he does, it usually goes in.
And his numbers prove it.
The Tigers' 6-foot-7 graduate student is shooting a team-high 71.4 percent from the field.
Pellom, who missed the first three games of the season due to knee surgery, has four contests in which he shot 50 percent or better from the field (minimum 4 FGA).
So, in half of his eight appearances, the Wilmington, N.C., native has shot 50 percent or better from the floor.
His latest performance was a perfect one in which he was 5-of-5 from the field and 2-of-2 from the charity stripe (12 points) in Memphis' 75-61 win over Jackson State Dec. 28.
Pellom's field goal shooting performance versus Jackson State was the 47th time in his career that he shot 50 percent or better in a game (minimum 4 FGA).
PELLOM MAKES RETURN IN FLORIDA
What makes David Pellom's shooting performances stand out is that he underwent arthroscopic debridement surgery on his left knee Nov. 7. Dr. Barry Phillips of Campbell Clinic performed the surgery.
The reason for the Nov. 7 surgery was that the 6-foot-7, 224-pound forward was experiencing some knee discomfort from an injury suffered earlier in his career at George Washington.
Pellom, a transfer from George Washington, was expected to be sidelined for five weeks.
However, Pellom's recovery went quicker than expected, and he saw action in all three Tigers' games in the Old Spice Classic Nov. 28-Dec. 1.