With one satisfying win under their belt, the 17th-ranked Memphis Tigers go in search another as they entertain the Samford Bulldogs on Saturday night in the opening round of the 2012 Battle 4 Atlantis.
The event continues Nov. 22-24 in Nassau, The Bahamas.
Samford has already played three games here in the first week of the season, sandwiching a 59-40 blowout win over Martin Methodist between losses to Austin Peay (75-64) and No. 2 Louisville (80-54). The Bulldogs, who are members of the Southern Conference and will begin league play on Jan. 5, 2013 at home against Chattanooga, are playing another ranked team tonight, and still has bouts to come against defending national champion Kentucky, as well as with Big Ten foe Wisconsin
Memphis opened its season this past Monday at home against North Florida, and clipped the Ospreys in what turned out to be an 81-66 triumph. The Tigers, who will face much stiffer competition in the coming weeks before kicking off its final season as a member of Conference USA against visiting East Carolina on Jan. 9, 2013.
Memphis leads the all-time series with Samford, 3-1, and the last meeting was in 2003 and went to the Tigers in a 63-62 final. The Bulldogs' lone win was way back in 1948.
Samford was blown out of the building in its recent visit to Louisville, at least in the first half as they trailed 42-13 at the break. The Bulldogs would play better in the second half, but it was too little too late against a team as talented and well-coached as the Cardinals. Tim Williams tallied 15 points and six rebounds for Samford, which also got 11 points from Raijon Kelly, despite him missing eight of his 12 field goal attempts. The team as a whole shot just 39.1 percent from the floor, but did manage a 45.0 percent effort from beyond the arc (9-of-20). A total of 21 turnovers proved costly, as did a crippling 53-28 rebounding deficit. Williams is averaging 17.0 points and 8.7 caroms per contest here in the early going, while Kelly contributes 11.3 points and 4.7 assists per outing. As a result of having only two players averaging double digits in scoring, Samford is netting just 59.0 ppg on typical shooting outputs of 40.6 percent overall, 26.9 percent from three- point range, and 59.5 percent from the foul line. Add a minus-10 rebounding margin to the mix and its not difficult to see why the Bulldogs haven't been more successful.
Memphis began the season with an easy win over North Florida, and while the schedule will pick up soon enough, the Tigers aren't likely to find themselves feeling blue very often this year. Memphis kicked off the campaign without starting guard Geron Johnson who is out due to suspension, but other guys had no issue with stepping to the forefront, notably Tarik Black who scored 18 points and grabbed seven rebounds to pace the club in both categories. Joe Jackson added 14 points, six boards and six assists, while Antonio Barton came off the bench to tally 11 points, four rebounds and four helpers. As a team, the Tigers shot just 42 percent from the field and missed 13 of their 19 three-point tries. But the Ospreys made good on only 39.3 percent of their total shots while committing 16 turnovers and getting abused on the glass, 47-31.