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After a five day break from official action, the Memphis Tigers (3-1) welcome the Oakland Golden Grizzlies (3-3) to the FedEx Forum tonight at 7:00pm. The Golden Grizzlies look to be only the second real test for this Tigers team early into the season.
Oakland University, located in Rochester, Mich., brings a 3-3 record into The FedEx Forum. After losing its first two games to Eastern Michigan (81-77) and at Wisconsin (58-42), the Golden Grizzlies won two straight with victories over Rochester College (97-63) and at Tennessee Tech (77-56) before running into a buzz-saw in the Kansas Jayhawks. Over the weekend, the Golden Grizzlies evened up their record at 3-and-3 with a 83-75 victory over Central Arkansas.
Keith Benson’s 24 points, 18 rebounds and seven blocked shots were the key to Oakland’s 83-75 victory over Central Arkansas Saturday night as part of the Hall of Fame Showcase. Benson was 7 of 13 from the field and made 10 of 13 free throws as he scored a season-high 24 points. This was Benson’s third double-double of the season. Johnathon Jones also posted a double-double for the Golden Grizzlies (3-3). Jones had 13 points and 11 assists. Derick Nelson added 13 points to the win.
Oakland averages 72.5 points per game and allows 70.3 ppg, while also outrebounding opponents, 45 to 39. The Golden Grizzlies, though, are shooting just 41.2 percent from the field and 28.7 percent from three-point range.
OU is led by two of the best unknown players in America. They are the 6-11, 225-pound Benson and 5-11 senior point guard Johnathan Jones, the Preseason Summit League Player of the Year/Preseason Mid-Major All-American. Jones, who led the nation in assists last season with 8.1 per game, averages 12.8 points plus a team-high 7.0 assists per game and 11 total steals.
Benson, meanwhile, is a dominant big-man and the school’s all-time and single-season record holder in blocks. He’s projected as a first-round pick (No. 29 overall) in the 2010 NBA Draft by nbadraft.net. Benson averages a team-high 18.2 points, 10.8 rebounds and 4.3 blocks per game. Benson will prove to be a test for Memphis’ front-line of Pierre Henderson-Niles and Will Coleman.
The 6-5, 236-pound DerickNelson is another top gun up front with averages of 15.2 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. Junior guard Larry Wright (7.2 ppg), junior forward Will Hudson (6.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg), and sophomore guards Drew Maynard (4.7 ppg) and Blake Cushingberry (3.5 ppg) also contribute to the attack.
After returning five starters and eight letterwinners off last season’s 23-13 team, the Golden Grizzlies are the overwhelming preseason pick to win the Summit League in 2010. They had a memorable 2008-09 campaign, winning a Div. I era-best 23 wins, second most all time, and earning a berth in the inaugural College Insider.com Postseason Tournament, where OU lost in the quarterfinals at Bradley, 77-76.
Kampe is in his 26th season at OU with a 421-316 record, ranking 31st among winningest active Division I coaches. He’s led the Golden Grizzlies to NCAA tournaments in both Div. II and Div. I, and recorded 20-win seasons seven times. Only four active Division I coaches have been at their respective schools longer than Kampe, led by Jim Boeheim with 33 seasons at Syracuse.
WHAT DO THE TIGERS NEED TO DO?
- Post defense and rebounding
The Tigers’ frontcourt players fronted the post in the last matchup against a formidable front line in Cole Aldrich and the Morris twins for Kansas. The goal was to front the post unless the defensive player felt the Kansas big riding them out, essentially clearing the way for the ball to be thrown over the top. This strategy did not turn out so well for the Tigers, as Aldrich scored multiple times on lobs into the post over a fronting Tiger defender.
The key for tonight will be for the Tiger post-players to effectively guard the post, limiting Oakland’s primary scorer while still being effective on the boards.
- Extend perimeter pressure
The ability for Willie Kemp and Roburt Sallie to guard opposing guards at a high level for the majority of a game must shine through tonight. With a very saavy floor-general in Jones, Kemp and Sallie must extend their perimeter defense to limit the looks into the post and disrupt the Oakland offense.