Memphis-SMU Preview

Memphis has won 16 consecutive road games in league play dating back to its time in Conference USA, but its next opponent has yet to lose at home this season.

The 22nd-ranked Tigers will try to extend their lengthy road win streak Saturday by thwarting Southern Methodist’s attempt to win 11 straight homes games for the first time in 14 years.

Memphis hasn’t lost a conference road game since a 75-72 defeat to Southern Mississippi on Feb. 1, 2012, and has earned four victories away from home in its first season in the American Athletic Conference.

The Tigers (16-4, 6-2) won 69-59 at Central Florida on Wednesday, holding the Knights to five points in the final 8:52 to pull away for a fourth consecutive win.

Memphis shot 51.1 percent and held an opponent to under 40 percent for the second straight game (39.7). The Tigers have also limited each of their last three foes to 59 points or fewer.

"We’re trying to turn the corner on the defensive end. That’s the main focus for us," guard Chris Crawford said. "We’re trying to set the bar at the defensive end, just get stops and get teams to the field goal percentage we want to keep them at."

SMU (16-5, 5-3) is one of the AAC’s best defensive teams, ranking second in scoring at 61.2 points and first in opponent shooting at 37.0 percent.

That defense, though, wasn’t nearly as strong in Tuesday’s 78-71 loss at South Florida, which snapped a season high-tying five-game win streak. The Bulls shot 53.1 percent, easily the best performance by a Mustang opponent this season.

"Their energy was amazing," coach Larry Brown told South Florida’s website. "I thought they did an unbelievable job. They outcoached us and they outplayed us."

SMU also allowed Houston to shoot 47.8 percent in a 75-68 road win Sunday but is limiting opponents to 33.5 percent at Moody Coliseum. The Mustangs, who are giving up 56.0 points per game there, haven’t won 11 consecutive homes games since a 13-game run in 1999-2000.

They held then-No. 17 Connecticut to 36.7 percent shooting in a 74-65 upset Jan. 4, their first visit from a Top 25 team since a 79-66 loss to No. 14 Memphis on Feb. 4, 2009.

The Tigers also won 60-52 at SMU on Feb. 6 in the only matchup between the schools last season despite shooting 29.8 percent. They held the Mustangs to 31.1 percent shooting and a 1-for-12 performance from 3-point range while winning for the first time in the last three visits to Dallas.

Memphis’ Geron Johnson, averaging 8.7 points this season, made a career-high five shots from beyond the arc and scored 19 points.

Crawford has gone 9 for 17 from 3-point range in his last two games, while leading scorer Joe Jackson is averaging 16.3 points on 60.0 percent shooting in his last three contests.

SMU’s Nic Moore, who averages a team-best 13.9 points, had to sit out last season after transferring from Illinois State. The sophomore guard has combined for 51 points in his last two games.

Memphis is 11-3 all-time against SMU.