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Memphis visits South Florida in AAC opener
Tampa, FL (SportsNetwork.com) – American Athletic Conference play opens up on
New Year’s Eve at the USF Sun Dome, as the 18th-ranked Memphis Tigers take on
the South Florida Bulls.
Other than a couple of losses to nationally-ranked squads Oklahoma State
(101-80) and Florida (77-75), Memphis has been strong this season, opening up
at 9-2. The Tigers’ highlight in non-conference action came in a championship
run at the Old Spice Classic, where they exacted revenge on Oklahoma State
(73-68) in the title bout. They most recently took care of business at home
versus Jackson State on Saturday, 75-61.
USF has also been impressive through the first two months of the campaign,
winning nine of its 13 matchups, which includes a solid 6-2 record at the Sun
Dome. After dropping back-to-back contests in the Las Vegas Classic to
Mississippi State (71-66) and Santa Clara (66-65), the Bulls returned to their
winning ways with a road victory over Bradley on Saturday, 61-57.
These newly-formed AAC rivals haven’t met since the 2004-05 season. Memphis
has a firm handle on the all-time series, winning 18 of 21 matchups.
Memphis impressed on both ends of the floor in its most recent 14-point
victory, as it shot 45.6 percent from the field while forcing Jackson State
into 20 turnovers, which directly resulted in 31 points. Michael Dixon, Jr.
paced the effort with 14 points despite missing on all six of his 3-point
attempts. Shaq Goodwin tallied 13 points, seven rebounds and three blocks,
David Pellom shot 5-of-5 from the field for 12 points off the bench, Joe
Jackson netted 11 points, and Chris Crawford added eight points, seven boards
and seven steals.
Typically, the Tigers are even more proficient on offense, as they shoot 48.1
percent from the field this season for 82.3 ppg. Their effort on the defensive
end of the floor has been stellar as well, allowing just 69.5 ppg while
boasting an outstanding +5.1 turnover margin. Jackson paces the squad in
scoring with 14.9 ppg, impressing most from the free-throw line (.875).
Goodwin (13.5 ppg) shoots a lofty 67.9 percent from the field and is a factor
in the paint with 6.5 rpg and 2.0 bpg. Dixon, Jr. brings 10.7 ppg to the
table, while five others pour in between 9.4 and 6.0 ppg on a nightly basis.
USF was tied with Bradley at 57 with under two minutes remaining in its latest
bout, and it managed to outlast the Braves in the low-scoring, back-and-forth
battle by draining 4-of-6 from the foul line down the stretch. The team shot a
strong 48.9 percent from the field in the victory, which helped mask a game-
high 15 turnovers and a poor showing from 3-point range (3-of-15). Chris Perry
was outstanding, shooting 7-of-8 from the field for 18 points. Victor Rudd was
hot on his heels with 17 points, while Corey Allen Jr. tallied 11 points and
The Bulls have gotten used to falling on the positive side of low-scoring
affairs, as they net 69.5 ppg per game while allowing 66.8. They are aided by
owning slight advantages in the rebounding (+0.2) and turnover (+0.1) battles,
although they shoot 3-pointers at a lowly 27.6 percent success rate. Rudd is
the catalyst, both in terms of scoring (16.2 ppg) and rebounding (7.2 rpg).
Allen, Jr. (12.4 ppg) is strong on the perimeter with 3.4 apg and 1.7 spg, and
Perry adds 10.2 ppg on nearly 59 percent field goal shooting.