Memphis hits road to battle Rutgers in AAC action
Piscataway, NJ (SportsNetwork.com) - Coming off a tough loss to one of the teams they're battling in the American Athletic Conference standings, the 22nd-ranked Memphis Tigers will try to get back on track when they visit the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at the RAC on Wednesday night.
Memphis dropped an 86-81 overtime decision at Connecticut last Saturday, putting an end to the team's three-game win streak and marking only its second setback in the last nine outings. As it is, the Tigers are 19-6 overall and 8-4 in conference, and they'll try to improve their 4-3 road record with a win tonight.
Rutgers has only four wins since the calendar turned over to 2014, the team falling nine times since. The Scarlet Knights are currently mired in a two- game skid, with their most recent defeat coming in embarrassing fashion at Louisville this past Sunday, 102-54.
These two teams met for the first time ever just a couple of weeks ago, with Memphis prevailing at home in a 101-69 final.
Memphis put four players in double figures in the recent loss at UConn, led by Joe Jackson and his 24 points. Jackson also handed out seven assists for a team that shot 54.8 percent from the field, while draining 7-of-15 3-point attempts, but only attempts nine free throws. The Tigers were guilty of 18 turnovers, and they allowed the Huskies to win despite the home team hitting a mere 39.3 percent of its total shots. That's because UConn went 29-of-36 at the foul line and was guilty of only six turnovers. The Huskies also nailed nine treys in the game.
With the recent effort, Jackson upped his team-leading scoring average to 15.0 ppg, and while he is as solid a free-throw shooter (.803) as you're going to find, he needs to cut down on his long-range launches, as he is hitting only 29 percent from 3-point land (18-of-62). Shaq Goodwin (12.3 ppg, 6.6 rpg) and Michael Dixon, Jr. (11.4 ppg) are both netting double digits for a Memphis squad that generates just shy of 80 ppg, while permitting roughly 10 points fewer. Jackson does his best to keep his teammates involved, as he dishes out 4.6 apg, and three other starters (Chris Crawford, Geron Johnson, Austin Nichols) net between 8.2 and 9.2 ppg.
Rutgers put forth a hideous display at both ends of the court in the shellacking it took at Louisville last weekend, knocking down just 35.4 percent of its field goal attempts, including only 5-of-20 3-point tries, while allowing the Cardinals to convert 55.7 percent of their total shots, with 16-of-30 long-range tries finding the bottom of the net. The Scarlet Knights, who got 10 points each from Myles Mack and Kadeem Jack, turned the ball over 18 times and were beaten badly on the boards, 39-24.
Mack and Jack rank one-two on the team's scoring list for the season, turning in 15.6 and 14.2 ppg, respectively, with the former also serving as RU's primary playmaker (4.2 apg), and the latter its top rebounder (6.8 rpg). Collectively, the Scarlet Knights are putting up 73.7 ppg, but are permitting 77.4 ppg. They are pretty much even in terms of rebounding and turnovers, but they are allowing the opposition to shoot 37 percent from beyond the arc.