Le Moyne-Owen-Memphis Preview
A rare regular-season matchup with a Division II opponent should be just what Memphis needs to regroup and avoid its first three-game home losing streak in 20 years.
The No. 17 Tigers look to bounce back from their latest home defeat when they face nearby LeMoyne-Owen on Saturday.
Memphis (12-4) has shot 48.9 percent while winning its first three road league games during the initial season of the American Athletic Conference, but it fell to 0-2 in AAC play at home with an 83-73 loss to Connecticut on Thursday.
Michael Dixon Jr. scored a team-high 16 points off the bench, but the Tigers shot 43.5 percent while the Huskies hit 57.1 percent and held a 34-27 rebounding advantage.
"They were a more focused team, and they were better than us," guard Geron Johnson said. "We didn't hit those shots down the stretch in the game. We have to focus more like they did."
Despite the outcome, the effort seemed more respectable than the one of Jan. 4. The Tigers shot a season-low 33.3 percent overall and were outscored 42-27 in the second half of a 69-53 loss to Cincinnati in their AAC home opener.
"I did not think we played very poorly (Thursday), I actually thought we played very well in some areas," coach Josh Pastner said. "UConn just hit some shots especially at the end. It was a great game and we look forward to getting back out there Saturday."
While Memphis has dropped two straight home games by at least 10 points for the first time since the 1979-80 season, it probably isn't in danger of its first three-game home losing streak since Dec. 27, 1993-Jan. 8, 1994.
Memphis has won 78 of 79 home games against unranked, non-conference opponents, including 20 in a row by an average of 16.3 points.
This is the first time since an 86-54 win over Christian Brothers on Nov. 28, 2011, that Memphis has played a Division II program during the regular season.
Though six miles separate the campuses, the Tigers will be meeting Le Moyne-Owen (4-9) for the first time. The contest could provide Pastner with a good opportunity to play much of his roster while also helping guard Joe Jackson get back on the track.
The senior averages a team-high 14.4 points but has totaled 21 in the last two games while going 4 of 14 in each. He's 1 for 8 from 3-point range combined in those contests.
A member of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, LeMoyne-Owen will face its first Division I opponent since losing 79-39 to Tennessee State on Dec. 16, 2012.
Junior guard Daequan Mitchell-Fields averages 12.9 points to lead three players averaging in double figures. He scored 20 and Marcel Hawkins added 18 as the Magicians dropped their second straight and fourth in five games, 85-75 to Fort Valley State on Thursday.