Rutgers-Memphis Preview

BY foxsports • February 3, 2014

Memphis coach Josh Pastner knows his team can't afford to sulk for too long after having its win streak snapped, especially with a Top 25 team visiting this weekend.

The 24th-ranked Tigers will get a chance to face one of the American Athletic Conference's worst defensive squads before that matchup, but Rutgers has been better offensively heading into Tuesday night's game at Memphis.

The Tigers had won four straight overall by an average of 19.5 points and taken 16 consecutive league road games, dating to their time in Conference USA, before an 87-72 loss at Southern Methodist on Saturday. Memphis (16-5, 6-3) was outscored 58-43 in the second half and 29-8 in the first 7 1/2 minutes of the period.

"We got punched in the mouth at the start of the second half, and we didn't recover," coach Josh Pastner said. ''As I told our guys in the postgame, there's no time to have the woe-is-me syndrome. We can't feel sorry for ourselves. I was fine with our energy and effort. We just didn't get the job done."

Leading scorer Joe Jackson had a season-high 22 points, eight rebounds and six assists while Geron Johnson scored 18, one shy of matching his season best.

Memphis, 9-2 at home and winner of three straight, begins a three-game home stretch Tuesday against the Scarlet Knights (9-13, 3-6). The Tigers will also face No. 23 Gonzaga on Saturday before returning to conference play against Central Florida on Feb. 12.

Memphis will take on a Rutgers team that's allowing 75.6 points per game. The Scarlet Knights gave up an average of 79.3 during a season high-tying four-game skid that ended with a 93-70 win over Houston on Saturday.

Senior swingman J.J. Moore had a career-high 27 points in his team's highest-scoring performance against a Division I opponent this season. Leading scorer Myles Mack contributed 25 points, one shy of matching his season best.

"I think this would be in the top five (complete games) that we played this year, if not the best," Mack said. "This is probably the No. 1 game we've had sharing the ball and playing as a team."

Rutgers has averaged 82.0 points in its last three and gone 25 of 52 from 3-point range (48.1 percent) during that stretch. It's made 52.6 percent from the field over the last two games.

The Tigers might not have one of their top defenders, David Pellom, to help them slow down the Scarlet Knights. The senior forward sat out Saturday's game because of ailing knees, and Memphis was outscored 52-32 in the paint.

In their first meeting with Rutgers, the Tigers will try to avoid back-to-back losses for the first time since Nov. 22-23, 2012.

The Scarlet Knights have lost nine straight overall matchups with Top 25 opponents and 21 in a row on the road against ranked teams.

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