If there was ever a situation to get caught napping, this may be it. With an all important match-up looming with Southern Miss this weekend, the Tigers trip to SMU sets the stage for a vintage trap game.
Memphis enters with a lofty 18-3 (7-0) record and boasts the second longest winning steak in the nation at 12. The Mustangs season is trending the opposite way as they are 12-11 (2-6), having lost four of their last five games. But despite the struggles, this is not the SMU of old. In fact, this team has undergone quite the overhaul.
Matt Doherty is out as head coach, replaced by the legendary Larry Brown who is the only coach to win both a NCAA and NBA championship. Brown has decked out his bench with a very good supporting cast of assistant coaches. Combine those factors with eight newcomers, and this is a totally different team despite three returning starters.
Opponent: Southern Methodist University (SMU) Mustangs
TV: None (All-Access)
Head Coach: Larry Brown
2011-12 Record: 13-19 , Conference: 4-12
2012-13 Record: 12-11 Conference: 2-6
2012-13 RPI: 193
Kenpom: ranked 191 in offensive efficiency, in 171 defensive efficiency, 180 overall,
- Tulsa – SMU loses 48-47, Memphis wins 94-64
- Tulane – SMU wins 59-53, Memphis wins 71-60
- Marshall – SMU wins 68-57, Memphis wins 73-72
Home vs. Road: SMU 6-4 vs. Memphis 4-0
- Jalen Jones – 6’6″ 210 So. G averaging 33.7mpg, 15.3ppg, 8.1rpg, 1.2apg, 35.3% 3pt
- Nick Russell – 6’4″ 200 Jr. G averaging 36.7mpg, 14.1ppg, 3.8rpg, 4.3apg, 32.8% 3pt
- Ryan Manuel – 6’4″ 175 So. G averaging 33.9mpg, 12.1ppg, 4rpg, 2.6apg, 23.5% 3pt
- Cannen Cunningham – 6’9″ 220 So. C averaging 30.7mpg, 8.7ppg, 5.7rpg, 1.2apg, 50% 3pt
- Shawn Williams – 6’7″ 225 Jr. F averaging 33mpg, 7.9ppg, 5.2rpg, 1.7apg, 43.5% 3pt
- Brian Bernardi – 6’2″ 180 Fr. G averaging 9.7mpg, 3.4ppg, 0.7rpg, 0.1apg, 43.9% 3pt
- London Giles – 6’3″ 185 Sr. G averaging 15mpg, 3ppg, 1.4rpg, 0.7apg, 20% 3pt
- Uche Ofoegbu – 6’4″ 200 Fr. G averaging 7.3mpg, 0.5ppg, 1.4rpg, 0.2apg, 0% 3pt
- The Mustangs have three players who average double-digit points. Jalen Jones, a 6’6 guard, is the teams leading scorer (15.3/gm) and rebounder (8.1/gm). Nick Russell (14.1) and Ryan Manuel (12.1) are the other two. Russell also leads the team in assists, dishing out 4.3 per contest.
- SMU is in the bottom half of college basketball in points per game (64.9) and assists per game (11.9), but they do shoot decently from the field (.444%) and above average from three (.367%).
- Anticipate some man-to-man, but don’t be shocked if the Mustangs go mostly zone. SMU will also look to trap on defense when opportunities present themselves.
Keys to the game:
- For the Tigers, this one will be about concentration. They’ve struggled at SMU in the past, losing the last two in Dallas, as a result of “looking ahead.” With the great minds on this opposing coaching staff, Memphis doesn’t want this to be a close one down the stretch. They have to come out and execute at a high level from the get go.
- SMU’s starting lineup has decent size and each player averages over 30 minutes per game, accounting for 86% of the team’s total minutes. If Memphis can put the Mustangs in foul trouble and make them go to their bench early, this one could be ugly as none of the reserves play major roles.
- SMU doesn’t protect the ball very well, so Memphis must wreak havoc on defense and force turnovers. If the Tigers can turn them over and get easy transition buckets, it’ll make Larry Brown’s trapping defense a moot point.
- Three-pointers are the great equalizer in college basketball and the Mustangs are hitting .367% from deep, good enough for 68th in the country. So the Tigers have to guard the perimeter and run shooters off the line or they could be in for a battle.
- On the other hand, Memphis cannot fall in love with the three-point shot. The Tigers hit 12 in the win over Tulsa, but the haven’t been great shooting the long ball this season. The Tigers are exceptional from the field overall though, connecting on .477% of all shots. So if the fast break isn’t effective, they just have to be patient and work the half-court offense for good, open looks.