The No. 21 Memphis Tigers look to keep their streak against league rivals intact as they host the Houston Cougars at FedExForum for a Conference USA affair.
The Tigers' last loss to a league rival came on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012 to Texas-El Paso. Memphis defeated seven C-USA opponents before heading to the Big Dance last season and have knocked off its first 11 league foes this season on its way to a 22-3 overall record. Josh Pastner's unit picked up its third straight win by a double-digit margin on Saturday as it downed Marshall, 71-59, at the Cam Henderson Center behind a 23-point, 10-rebound double-double by Adonis Thomas.
Houston continues its three-game road trip after suffering a 101-92 loss in triple overtime to Tulsa in the first chapter of the journey. The loss to the Golden Hurricane left the Cougars with a 15-9 overall record, including their 4-7 mark against league opponents. Coach James Dickey has used a three-headed attack consisting of Joseph Young (17.3 ppg), TaShawn Thomas (16.9 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 1.9 bpg) and Danuel House (12.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg) to produce the C-USA's top scoring offense at 77.9 ppg.
This will be the 39th meeting in history between these schools on the hardwood. Memphis owns a sizeable 26-12 all-time series edge after its 89-55 rout of the Cougars a season ago in the Lone Star State.
Thomas, a heralded sophomore forward, submitted his career night against the Thundering Herd as Memphis hit on 45.3 percent of its field goal tries, while limiting MU to 38.2 percent field goal efficiency. Joe Jackson, who paces the group with 13.8 points, 4.7 assists and 1.7 steals per game, chipped in 12 points against the Herd. Thomas and Geron Johnson add just over 11 ppg apiece for the Tigers, who also receive steady production from its next five players down the line. The very deep and athletic Tigers are outscoring their opposition by an average of 11.2 ppg this season and their only losses came to respectable programs in Virginia Commonwealth, Minnesota and Louisville.
Houston's Thomas also posted a double-double his last time out with 31 points and 15 rebounds. Young added 25 points and Jherrod Stiggers produced 15 points, but the reserves did not do enough damage as Tulsa held a 57-22 advantage in bench points. The high-scoring Cougars shot just 36.6 percent from the field and allowed the Golden Hurricane to knock down 45.5 percent of their field goal tries. Houston's lack of discipline on the defensive end turned out to be the difference, as it committed 36 fouls which sent Tulsa to the free-throw line for 50 unguarded attempts.