Memphis-UConn Preview

BY foxsports • January 8, 2016

Connecticut was ranked just outside the top 10 in the country in shooting percentage until going cold in its worst offensive showing of the season its last time out.

Regaining their accuracy probably won't be easy Saturday night as the 23rd-ranked Huskies face Memphis, one of the top defensive teams in the country, at Gampel Pavilion.

UConn (10-4, 1-1 AAC) came into Tuesday's game against Temple 11th in shooting percentage at 50.3 but made 31.6 percent in a 55-53 home loss. Sterling Gibbs' desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer was well off the mark after the Owls' Josh Brown hit the winning jumper with 2.5 seconds left.

Shonn Miller led the Huskies with 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting but the other starters combined for 24 points and 7 of 34 from the field. Daniel Hamilton was 2 of 13 as UConn's five-game win streak was snapped.

''Our guards combined were 7 for 30, no fast break points. If you do that, that's a recipe for disaster," coach Kevin Ollie said. " ... We just got to go back to work, we got a day off, hopefully those guys look themselves in the mirror, I know I will and we'll bounce back like champions."

That's easier said than done, however, as Memphis is third in the nation in defensive field-goal percentage at 36.1.

The Tigers took both meetings last season, limiting UConn to 27.8 percent in a 54-53 victory at Gampel on March 5. Memphis won on Shaq Goodwin's short fall-away jumper with 8 seconds left as the Huskies suffered through their worst shooting performance since Feb. 8, 1997.

The Tigers (10-4, 1-0) held then-No. 24 South Carolina to a season-low 31.6 percent shooting last Saturday but fell 86-76. They bounced back with another suffocating defensive effort against Nicholls State on Tuesday, limiting the Colonels to 5 of 22 from 3-point range while forcing 27 turnovers in an 82-46 rout.

Memphis, ninth nationally in rebounding at 43.2 per game, trailed 14-7 early before going on a 43-4 run to lead by 39 at halftime.

"This was a good win," coach Josh Pastner said. "I thought there were some positives that we had."

A big positive for the Tigers is Goodwin coming back Saturday after serving a one-game suspension for violating the league's sportsmanship code. The 6-foot-9 senior, averaging 11.6 points and 7.9 rebounds, apparently tripped an opponent while sitting on the bench against the Gamecocks.

Freshman Dedric Lawson averages a team-best 14.5 points but has been mired in a shooting funk, connecting on 30.0 percent while averaging 8.0 points in his last three games.

The Huskies are led in scoring by sophomore Rodney Purvis, but he had 11 and shot 4 of 11 on Tuesday after averaging 20.0 points and 60.9 percent from the field in his previous four contests. UConn is 1-4 when Purvis, who averages 15.3 points, scores 12 or fewer.

The junior guard struggled against Memphis last season, averaging 7.0 points and 23.8 percent shooting. Hamilton led UConn in scoring and rebounding in each meeting, totaling 41 points and 21 boards.

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