The No. 23 ranked Memphis Tigers are back to their winning ways, but for how long? After the loss to the Connecticut Huskies, the Tigers have won the last two home games against Le Moyne-Owen College and Houston. These two teams are not powerhouses but a win is a win to coach Pastner and it goes into win column for the program.
Next up for the Tigers are the South Florida Bulls. Pastner mentioned after the win over the Cougars on Thursday night that he doesn't want his team to take this game for granted.
"South Florida is talented. They are as big of a team in the entire league," said Pastner. "They got good perimeter players. If we don't have the same type of intensity, they can come in and beat ya and they are a dangerous team."
In the first meeting between these two teams, Memphis showed no mercy against the Bulls on their home floor. The Tigers won the rebounding battle 41-34 and the seniors guards for Memphis played at an high level. Geron Johnson was the leading scorer for Memphis with 19 points. Joe Jackson and Michael Dixon finished the game with 18 points apiece. Senior graduate transfer David Pellom added 10 points and eight rebounds off the bench for Memphis.
As a team, the Tigers shot 50.8 percent (33-of-65) from the field, 40 percent (8-of-20) from beyond the arc, and 63.6 percent (14-of-22) from the free throw line. The great shooting from the three-point line was great, but it hasn't looked so good overall this season. The Tigers have only made 87-of-286 shots (30.4 percent) from deep. Their opponents are averaging 31.3 percent a game from long range. The Tigers will have to repeat their last performance against the Bulls in order to get the W in front of Tiger Nation.
As for the Bulls (10-9, 1-5), they are currently on a three-game losing streak with losses to Southern Methodist, Cincinnati, and Louisville. Their last win was on Jan. 9 against the Temple Owls by the final score of 82-75. In this game, senior forward Victor Rudd led his team to victory with a 23-point and 11 rebound performance. He wouldn't be the only player on the roster to score in double figures. Corey Allen Jr. added 14 points. six assists, and three rebounds. Martino Brock had 11 points. Chris Perry and Musa Abdul-Aleem each had 10 points.
For the season, the Bulls are a negative 2.4 in points differential. They are allowing their opponents to score 69.3 points a game. As for their shooting, the shots are not falling. So far into the season, the Bulls are shooting 43.8 percent (443-of-1012) from the field. People thought Memphis three-point shooting was horrible, well the Bulls have surpassed their struggles from beyond the arc. South Florida is shooting 25.9 percent (64-of-247) from deep. No team can win a basketball game shooting the basketball at a low rate.
The Bulls have had a depleted roster this season with guys missing key games. Rudd and Allen are the only two players for South Florida to start and play in all of their 19 games. Junior guard Anthony Collins' body hasn't been able to hold up this season as he has only played in eight games for the Bulls. With his absence from the rotation, coach Heath will have to rely on his frontcourt that consists of Rudd and freshman center John Egbunu. Egbunu is averaging 7.9 points a game. He's also leading the team in rebounding with 7.1 rebounds a game.
The Tigers,of course, will look for their guards to set the tone early in the game. Tiger Nation and especially Pastner is counting on the seniors to get the job done in every game. But the frontcourt has been doing their job as well. In the win over Houston, sophomore forward Shaq Goodwin led his team in scoring with 20 points while grabbing six rebounds. He also shot 57.1 percent (8-of-14) from the field. Pellom is another big piece for the Tigers in the paint. Pastner simply loves how he brings leadership and energy off the bench for the team. Pellom added seven points, four rebounds and two assists for the Tigers in their win over the Cougars.
The game between the Tigers and Bulls is slated for Sunday at 1 p.m. CST at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, TN. The game will be televised on CBSS.