Memphis-UCF Preview

Back on track at home within the American Athletic Conference, Memphis can now focus on continuing its road success against league opponents.

The No. 22 Tigers look for a 16th straight road victory over a conference foe while trying to extend Central Florida’s season-high skid to five games Wednesday night.

Memphis (15-4, 5-2) entered the initial season of the AAC riding a 12-game road winning streak against league opponents, achieved while a member of Conference USA. The Tigers have won AAC road games against South Florida, then-No. 12 Louisville and Temple by an average of 10.3 points.

They bounced back from an 0-2 league home start to beat Houston and South Florida there by a combined 162-117. Chris Crawford scored 15 points by hitting half of the Tigers’ season-high 10 3-pointers on 22 attempts in an 80-58 rout of the Cougars on Sunday.

"We have to keep playing well," coach Josh Pastner said. "If we have the right energy, we have a great opportunity to perform at a high level. It is all about our attitude and how we carry ourselves on the court."

Though Memphis is second in the AAC with a 48.3 shooting percentage, it’s second-to-last at 31.5 percent from beyond the arc.

Sunday’s performance may be something to build on.

”We are a good shooting team," said guard Joe Jackson, who has totaled 32 points, gone 4 of 6 from 3-point range and recorded 14 assists in the last two games.

"The numbers are going to shoot up. You just have to stick with it and keep working."

The Tigers have made 37.5 percent of their 3s while winning four straight over UCF (9-8, 1-5), a run that’s followed their only loss in 15 all-time meetings, 68-67 on the road Jan. 18, 2012.

Memphis avenged that defeat March 2 when Jackson and Crawford each scored 19 and the Tigers shot 48.3 percent overall in a 76-67 win.

Averaging a team-leading 14.1 points this season, Jackson scored 40, recorded 17 assists and went 16 of 22 from the field in two games against UCF in 2012-13.

The Knights shot 49.2 percent to win 78-76 over Temple on Jan. 4, but they’ve averaged 58.3 points and 34.2 percent while dropping four straight by an average of 15.7.

UCF committed 19 turnovers and shot 31.3 percent for the second time in three games in a 58-46 loss to SMU on Jan. 18. It followed that up by turning the ball over 14 times and hitting 38.5 percent in a 69-51 defeat at then-No. 15 Cincinnati on Thursday.

"We are making some mistakes that are hurting our basketball team and we just have to continue to work on cutting those out and improve," coach Donnie Jones said.

Senior swingman Isaiah Sykes averages a team-leading 15.1 points but has totaled 15 in the last two games. Sykes, who suffered a head injury against the Mustangs, had nine points and shot 2 of 12 on Thursday.

The Knights, playing the second of three straight against Top 25 teams, have dropped five in a row to ranked opponents.