Memphis (22-8) at Tulsa (17-12)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 3, 12:00 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Reynolds Center (8,355) -- Tulsa, Oklahoma. Television: CBSSN-Regional. Home Record: Memphis 15-2, Tulsa 10-4. Away Record: Memphis 6-4, Tulsa 6-6. Neutral Record: Memphis 1-2, Tulsa 1-2. Conference Record: Memphis 12-3, Tulsa 10-5. Series Record: Memphis leads, 20-13.
GAME NOTES: Looking to claim another outright Conference USA regular-season title, the Memphis Tigers visit the Reynolds Center to take on the Tulsa Golden Hurricane.
Memphis already clinched at least a share of its seventh C-USA regular-season crown with Tuesday's 84-55 rout over UCF. The Tigers, who have won 16 of their last 19 games overall, are receiving votes in both national polls this week. Their last six victories have come by an average margin of 22.5 points.
As one of the top four seeds in next week's conference tournament at FedExForum, Tulsa will also get a first-round bye. The Golden Hurricane were dealt a 68-64 loss at UAB on Wednesday, but prior to that had won 10 of their previous 12 outings.
Memphis leads the all-time series, 20-13.
The Tigers were simply too much for UCF to handle on Tuesday night, as they shot 59 percent from the field to win by nearly 30. Naismith Award candidate Will Barton led all scorers with 18 points to go along with 11 rebounds for his 10th double-double of the season. Barton also posted four blocks. Senior Wesley Witherspoon tallied 15 points, seven rebounds and four steals, while Tarik scored 14 and Chris Crawford added 11 points, five assists and five rebounds off the bench. Joe Jackson (nine points) dished out 10 assists in the victory. Defensively, Memphis held UCF to 38.8-percent shooting from the floor in addition to forcing 18 turnovers. Barton, in only his sophomore season, has been named the conference's Player of the Week three times this season. He is the conference's leading scorer with 18.3 points per game and also ranks in the top-10 in the C-USA in rebounding (7th; 8.1 rpg), field-goal percentage (9th; 51.7) and steals (4th; 1.5 spg). Barton, at 6-6, is the only guard among the top-10 in rebounding in C-USA. He is one of only three players in the nation averaging at least 16.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. But he has also gotten plenty of help from his supporting cast. Black is shooting a ridiculous 80.9 percent from the floor over the last five games (38-of-47).
Tulsa boasts a dangerous backcourt, as well. Its starting guard trio of Jordan Clarkson (16.5 ppg), Scottie Haralson (11.0 ppg) and Eric McClellan (8.1 ppg) has averaged 37.7 points of the team's 67.1 scoring average over the last 13 games. They have combined to shoot 41.2 percent from three-point range (70- of-170) and 81.7 percent from the free throw line (94-of-115) in that span. Their shooting efforts, combined with Tulsa's sound defensive play, has made the Golden Hurricane quite a dangerous squad entering next week's conference tourney. Tulsa has held opponents to 40.7-percent shooting from the floor and only 60.7 ppg during C-USA play, its lowest scoring average of the Doug Wojcik era. In fact, the team has held each of its 15 conference foes below 50- percent shooting from the field. Playing on the road at UAB earlier this week, the Golden Hurricane fell behind by eight at the half and were never able to make up the deficit in the second stanza. They shot just 37.9 percent for the game and went 2-of-11 from beyond the arc. Clarkson paced four players in double figures with 21 points, while McClellan scored 14 in the loss. Steven Idlet (10.2 ppg) and Kodi Maduka (8.0 ppg, 6.4 rpg) rounded out the double-digit scorers with 13 and 10 points, respectively, while D.J. Magley grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds.
The Tigers won the 2011 C-USA Tournament, while Tulsa is the only program to reach the semifinals in each of the last four years. Both of these teams will likely try and save some fresh legs for the upcoming tourney, meaning this contest could come down to depth.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Memphis 72, Tulsa 68
03/03 10:39:26 ET