After a disappointing overtime loss to Tulsa on the road on the last day of 2016, the UConn men’s basketball team looks to start the new year on a high note in hopes of notching their first conference victory over the Memphis Tigers.
This will be the conclusion to the Huskies’ brief road stint, where they own a 1-2 record. Memphis will prove to be a much tougher matchup than Tulsa; sitting fourth in the American with an overall 10-4 record, the Tigers have only played one in-conference opponent, SMU, and dropped the contest by a very close score of 58-54.
SMU, though, has a 12-3 overall record and is ranked No. 25 on KenPom. The Huskies have lost to both Houston and Tulsa thus far, who are ranked No. 41 and No. 142 on the same scale, respectively. With a still-recovering Jalen Adams and a mediocre Rodney Purvis leading the point, UConn (5-8, 0-2 The American) has found it difficult to maximize scoring while minimizing the opponent’s offense.
Memphis will give UConn some trouble on that front. The Tigers rank first in the American in scoring offense, averaging 81.1 points per game; the Huskies sit 10th in the American with 65.5 points per game.
Memphis’ leading scorer is sophomore Dedric Lawson with 20.6 points per game. Their next biggest scorer, redshirt junior Markel Crawford, averages 14.5 points per game and has a field goal percentage of 51.1. The Tigers rank third in the American with an average of 42.7 percent of field goals made.
Luckily for the Huskies, Memphis is the only team who is worse than UConn beyond the arc; they rank dead last in the American in 3-point percentage with an average of 30.3 percent. While this means that UConn may catch a break in 3-point territory, it means that their frontcourt will be working overtime trying to prevent Memphis from dominating in the paint and from mid-range.
While Memphis is atop the conference in scoring offense, they rank 10th in scoring defense, allowing opponents to score an average of 71.4 points per game. By all accounts, if UConn can hit their shots, it may be one of the higher-scoring games the Huskies have played thus far.
The Huskies are lead on the scoring front by Adams, who averages 16.8 points per game and is coming off an 18-point performance against Tulsa in his first game back since suffering a concussion against Auburn on Dec. 23. He played all 45 minutes of the game, a decision that head coach Kevin Ollie said he regrets, but also didn’t have too much of a choice on. Adams missed the game-winning 3-pointer in UConn’s overtime loss to Tulsa on New Year’s Eve.
The Huskies and the Tigers will square off at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tennessee tomorrow at 7 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.