NCAA BK

UCF-Memphis Preview

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After knocking off a ranked, non-league opponent last weekend, Memphis can again focus on continuing its recent home success within the American Athletic Conference.

The No. 20 Tigers can earn a fourth straight league victory at the FedExForum by remaining perfect at home versus a UCF team that hopes to avoid a ninth consecutive defeat Wednesday night.

Memphis (18-5, 7-3) stepped out of conference Saturday and scored the final 10 points to pull out a 60-54 home victory over then-No. 23 Gonzaga. The Tigers overcame shooting 34.5 percent by holding the Bulldogs to 2 of 16 from 3-point range and outrebounding them 44-28.

"Our guys had guts in order to get that win," coach Josh Pastner said. "Sometimes things are deeper than they may seem on the surface. Maybe (past) losses to SMU, Connecticut or even Cincinnati gave us what we needed to pull out the win."

It was the fourth time in six games Memphis allowed fewer than 60 points, and the second in three contests this season it won despite shooting worse than 40 percent.

''We are going to be in games where we are not making every shot," said guard Joe Jackson, who had 10 points on 2-of-9 shooting but added five assists.

The victory was the fifth straight overall at the FedExForum for the Tigers, who opened AAC home play with consecutive losses to previously unranked Cincinnati and Connecticut by a combined 26 points. Since then, Memphis has shot 56.0 percent and averaged 87.7 points while beating league foes Houston, South Florida and Rutgers there by an average margin of 25.7.

Jackson has averaged 16.0 points and gone 16 of 22 from the field, including 6 of 8 from beyond the arc, in those three victories. He totaled 24 points on 10-of-27 shooting in the two home defeats.

Averaging a team-leading 14.4 points, Jackson had 17 with five rebounds, five assists and four steals during a 69-59 win at UCF (9-12, 1-9) on Jan. 29. The Knights shot 39.7 percent and were held to five points over the final 8:52.

The Tigers are 15-1 all-time versus UCF and have won all 10 meetings at home, including the last four there by an average margin of 24.5 points.

UCF has allowed an average of 75.8 points on 48.2 percent shooting during a losing streak that reached eight games after a 75-55 defeat to then-No. 22 UConn on Sunday. Isaiah Sykes scored 17 and 6-foot-10, 310-pound freshman Justin McBride added 13 in 13 minutes in his most extensive action this season.

"I know I'm starting to sound like a broken record, but we can learn from this and get after it again," coach Donnie Jones said. "(UConn has) been at this level for a long time and we're still trying to get there. We're going to get there, it's just going to take some time."

UCF is 0-5 against ranked opponents this season, and has dropped eight in a row versus Top 25 teams since a 68-63 win over then-No. 4 UConn on Nov. 25, 2011.

Sykes, who averages team highs of 15.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.6 assists, and had 24, 12 boards and five assists versus Memphis last month.

Tagged: Memphis, UCF, Joe Jackson

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