Preview: Temple at Memphis
Memphis must avoid looking ahead as it faces two struggling teams in the next week, starting with a visit from Temple on Saturday. The 24th-ranked Tigers end the regular season with games against the three teams currently above them in the American Athletic Conference standings after meeting the Owls and Houston (Feb. 27) – squads that have combined for two wins in February. Memphis has won four of its last five and eight of 10, led by the second-best scoring offense in the league.
Tigers leading scorer Joe Jackson hopes to rebound from a 3-of-12 shooting performance in the 64-59 victory at Rutgers on Thursday, but Memphis possesses plenty of offensive weapons. The Tigers average 79.1 points and stand second in the AAC in field-goal percentage, while Temple allows the most points in the league. The Owls do boast four players in the top 14 in the league in scoring and own a recent win over Southern Methodist.
TV: 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU
ABOUT TEMPLE (7-18, 2-11 AAC): The Owls often have been competitive this season, but they have had trouble finishing games and are giving up 77.5 points per contest in league play. Dalton Pepper is fourth in the AAC in scoring (17.1) and Will Cummings (15.9) stands seventh as Temple scores 73 points per game but shoots a league-worst 42.7 percent. Quenton DeCosey contributes 14.9 points and Anthony Lee adds 13.8 while leading the league in rebounding (8.8), but the bench has not contributed much.
ABOUT MEMPHIS (20-6, 9-4): Jackson has been a consistent force at point guard, averaging 14.8 points, and keys a balanced offense that paces the league in assists (17.7). Forward Shaq Goodwin is second in scoring (12.2), leads the team in rebounds (6.5) and blocks (48) and tops the conference in field-goal percentage (61.3). Michael Dixon Jr. averages 11.5 points after scoring a team-high 15 on Thursday and Chris Crawford (9.1) is the top 3-point threat at 40.3 percent with 58 makes on the season.
1. Memphis, which beat Temple 79-69 on Jan. 11, has won 20 games for a school-record 14th straight season.
2. Pepper leads the AAC in minutes played per game (37), DeCosey is second (35.2) and Cummings ranks fourth (33.3).
3. Memphis is 174-20 on its home court – the FedExForum – since moving there for the 2004-05 campaign, including a 12-2 mark this season.
PREDICTION: Memphis 78, Temple 70
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