NCAA BK

Thu, Jan 23, 2014 - 8:00 PM ET
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Memphis has played well on the road, but surprisingly poorly at home during the initial season of the American Athletic Conference.

The No. 23 Tigers can avoid their first 0-3 home conference start in 44 years Thursday night by remaining undefeated against Houston at FedExForum.

Memphis (13-4, 3-2) has averaged 80.0 points and 48.9 percent shooting while beating South Florida, then-No. 12 Louisville and Temple on the road in AAC play. However, it's shot a combined 38.4 percent while losing 69-53 at home to Cincinnati on Jan. 4 and 83-73 to Connecticut last Thursday.

The Tigers averaged 81.6 points and 48.9 percent shooting during a 16-game home winning streak that ended with the loss to the Bearcats.

Though the Tigers proved little while bouncing back with a 101-78 home rout of Division II LeMoyne-Owen on Saturday, it at least made them feel better about themselves.

"Getting a win like that it isn't really about getting confidence back," said guard Geron Johnson, who had 12 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and three steals.

"It is about getting your swagger back because you have to have swagger as a basketball player. It was getting us ready for Houston."

Memphis has won three straight overall and 12 in a row at home over Houston (11-7, 3-2), but coach Josh Pastner wants the Tigers to understand the focus needed to avoid their first 0-3 home league start since the school was part of the Missouri Valley Conference in 1969-70.

"We have to treat every possession like it is our last," he said. "We cannot take any possession for granted. The pain and discipline of playing every possession so hard with great energy and passion is far less than the pain of regret."

Pastner also needs leading scorer Joe Jackson (13.8 points per game) to rebound from two straight subpar home games. The senior guard had 11 points and shot 4 of 14 against UConn, and made two of his five field-goal attempts while missing both 3-pointers to finish with four points in 21 minutes Saturday.

Jackson, however, has gone 11 of 16 from the field in three games against Houston.

Teammate Chris Crawford had 11 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists in an 81-74 home win over the Cougars on Feb. 20 - the first in the last five meetings at Memphis not decided by at least 10 points.

Houston, 0-11 against the Tigers at FedExForum, last won at Memphis by a 76-73 score Feb. 16, 2002.

The Cougars are 1-1 on the road in the AAC and won 75-71 at home over then-No.17 Connecticut on Dec. 31. They avoided a season-high third straight defeat with a 77-55 win over Rutgers on Sunday.

Freshman Danrad Knowles scored 16 points to lead five players in double figures as Houston shot 50.0 percent and made a season-high 11 3-pointers. It had shot 38.0 percent in its previous three contests.

"This win shows that we have to practice harder and bring the same intensity into every game," said forward Danuel House, who scored 14 in his second game back after missing almost two months with a knee injury.

TaShawn Thomas, who averages a team-high 16.7 points, had 20 while House added 16 in last season's meeting with Memphis.

Houston, 1-1 against ranked opponents this season, has dropped 10 straight road contests to Top 25 teams. All but two games of that skid came against Memphis.

Tagged: Memphis, Houston

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