Austin Peay-Memphis Preview
Memphis didn't have an easy opening month to the season, and this one might prove just as difficult even with some quick improvement.
The 22nd-ranked Tigers would appear to be merely tuning up for some potentially tough road games in December as they face winless Austin Peay on Saturday night, but the Governors gave them a big scare in last season's visit to FedExForum.
After beating Belmont in its season opener, Memphis was ranked No. 8 heading to Hawaii for the Maui Invitational but endured three tough games against top competition. Following a loss to then-No. 15 Michigan, the Tigers needed two overtimes to defeat Tennessee before falling in overtime to a Georgetown team likely to join the Top 25 next week.
Memphis (3-2) bounced back for a 70-45 win over Jackson State in its return home Monday, but a lackluster first half had coach Josh Pastner fuming.
His players responded by turning a six-point halftime lead into a 21-point advantage in less than four minutes. Joe Jackson finished with a team-best 15 points and Chris Crawford added a season-high 14.
"I don't know where our heads were. I don't know if it was a Maui hangover or what," Pastner said. "We have to be better against Austin Peay on Saturday. I can tell you that. ... We'll get it corrected. There's just some stuff we have to work on."
Rebounding is one of the main areas Pastner said his team has to improve. The Tigers have been outrebounded in all but one game and have allowed at least 18 offensive boards in three contests.
They could soon get some help with 6-foot-8 junior forward Ferrakohn Hall, a transfer from Seton Hall, scheduled to become eligible Dec. 15 - two days before a visit to No. 6 Louisville.
The Tigers also travel to Miami on Tuesday and Georgetown on Dec. 22, but they aren't expected to have any trouble without Hall against Austin Peay (0-8).
The Governors committed a season-high 23 turnovers in their latest defeat, 67-59 at Lipscomb on Monday. They missed 15 of 17 attempts from 3-point range for the second time this season and are among the nation's worst 3-point shooting teams at 23.8 percent.
Senior Melvin Baker was the only player in double figures Monday with 13 points. Leading scorer TyShwan Edmondson (13.4 ppg) was held to seven.
That duo keyed a near upset of the then-No. 18 Tigers last Dec. 16. Edmondson had 22 points and 10 rebounds, and Baker added 17 and 11, but the Governors fell 70-68 in overtime at Memphis.
The Tigers trailed by as many as 15 points in the second half, but Crawford helped bail them out by scoring six of his career-high 18 points in overtime. Charles Carmouche had 15 of his 16 points in the second half and added a career-best seven assists.
Carmouche started the team's first four games but didn't play Monday, reportedly due to a team suspension, though he is expected back in action Saturday.
Memphis has won five straight in the series and is 14-1 all-time at home against the Governors, with the lone loss coming in 2002.