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January 15, 2014

The Cheat Sheet: Memphis

Do you want to know more about UConn's opponent besides its won-loss record? No problem. UConnReport.com brings you the "cheat sheet" for a quick rundown of UConn's next opponent, Memphis.

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Memphis (12-3, 3-1) is coming off of a nice road trip winning at Louisville and at Temple. The win at Louisville was particularly important for coach Josh Pastner because it was his first road win against a Top 25 team at Memphis. Pastner is in his 5th year as the Tigers' coach, and picked up his first overall win against a Top 25 opponent earlier in the year when Memphis defeated Oklahoma State on a neutral court.

The Tigers have a RPI rating of 20 in large part due to the fact that they have no bad losses this year since their losses came at Oklahoma State (12th), vs. Florida (6), and at Cincinnati (18).


The team's leading scorer is point guard Joe Jackson, averaging 14.7 PPG. The senior point guard is averaging 80% of the possible minutes of playing time available, the most of the team.

Jackson came to Memphis with a lot of hype four years ago as a five star point guard, ranked as the 18th best player in the country. Jackson's first two seasons were a complete disaster because he was a turnover machine and hurt his team more than helped it most of the time. Jackson put things together last year on his way to becoming Conference USA Player of the Year.

The big reason for Jackson's improvement was his decision making. The point guard stopped driving to the hoop so often---which was the cause for a lot of his turnovers during his first two seasons---and started shooting from the outside. He shot 44.7% from long range after shooting 30% and 31% his first two seasons. Jackson has not shot well from long range this year though (19%), so UConn might be wise to lay off of him.

Jackson has above average lateral quickness, which makes him a tough defender to drive against. Standing at 6'0", teams have found ways to take advantage of Jackson's shorter height on the defensive end. However, UConn probably doesn't have the personnel in their back court to do that

The player who is considered Memphis' best pro prospect is 6'9" forward, Shaw Goodwin. The sophomore big man has limited moves offensively, but he makes up for it with his long arms and athleticism in the post. Goodwin is 16th nationally in effective field goal % at 65.9% and grabs an impressive 12.4% of available offensive rebounds. Goodwin racks up a lot of fouls in the post, as evident by his 73.6% free throw rate, meaning 73.6% of his shots are free throws. That isn't necessarily a good thing for Memphis though, since Goodwin is a 65.4% free throw shooter.

On the defensive end, Goodwin is active and is a difference maker when he is on. The forward averages 1.5 blocks per game and 1.4 steals per game.

Behind the Numbers

-40th fastest tempo in the country
-29th highest offensive rebounding percentage in the country. The Tigers grab 37.3% of all available offensive rebounds
-Memphis is the 24th ranked team in 2 point field goal % at 53.5% but 314th in three point field goal % at 29.4%
-2nd in the AAC in point per game at 79.9
-1.09 points per possession

-Causing turnovers on 22.7% of possessions, 15th nationally
-Memphis makes a steal on 13.7% of all defensive possessions, 7th nationally
-Allowing 32.7% of offensive rebounds, 5th highest in AAC
-Allowing .95 points per possession, 41st nationally

What to expect in this game

This game is going to be a battle of which team can expose the other team's weakness better

For UConn it will be important to take care of the ball, which the team has been a pretty good job of this year. The Huskies turn the ball over on only 16.8 % of possessions, good for the top 25 percentile nationally. Memphis loves to force its opponents into turnovers and jumping out into transition, and UConn has a chance to really disarm that strength. The Tigers have a really high 2 point field goal % because they score so many points on dunks. If UConn can make this a half court game things could get tough for the Tigers.

For Memphis, they really have to take advantage of UConn's weak rebounding. The Tigers have a number of forwards that they can wheel into the game to keep fresh so that they can hit the offensive glass hard.

In the end this just looks like a bad match-up for the Huskies .Even though the Huskies have played at a bit of a slow tempo this year, it isn't a strength of the team to execute in that way on the offensive end, particularly against a good defensive team like Memphis. If the game was in Storrs it might be a different story, but Memphis should take this game.

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