Hartford, CT (SportsNetwork.com) - The jockeying for favorable positioning in the American Athletic Conference continues on Saturday afternoon, as No. 20 Memphis tangles with No. 24 Connecticut.
Both teams are 19-5 on the season, with Memphis (8-3) a game up on UConn (7-4) in the AAC standings. Cincinnati is in first place with an 11-1 league ledger.
Memphis brings a three-game win streak, and victories in seven of its last eight games into this showdown. The Tigers put the wraps on a three-game homestand this past Wednesday with a 76-70 triumph over UCF. Memphis is 4-2 in true road games this season, although one of those setbacks came in its last venture away from home, an 87-72 setback at SMU two weeks ago.
UConn has won its last two bouts, the most recent of which being an 83-40 dismantling of visiting South Florida on Wednesday. The victory improved the Huskies' home record to 12-2, and following this contest they will split their final six games of the regular season between home and away bouts.
UConn tied the all-time series with Memphis at 1-1 by knocking off the Tigers at FedExForum back on Jan. 16, 83-73. DeAndre Daniels led the Huskies with 23 points and a career-high 11 rebounds, while Shabazz Napier added 17 points and 10 assists in the win. Michael Dixon, Jr. tallied 16 points for the losing side.
Joe Jackson poured in 18 points and dished out five assists, and three others reached double figures as well for the Tigers in their recent win over UCF. Shaq Goodwin finished with 14 points, six rebounds and four helpers for a Memphis squad that shot an even 50 percent from the field, despite missing 10 of its 14 3-point attempts. The Tigers prevailed even though they were beaten on the boards (39-27), thanks to an 18-8 edge in points from the free-throw line.
Jackson (14.6 ppg, 4.5 apg) continues to pace the team in scoring and assists, while Goodwin (12.5 ppg, 6.7 rpg) serves as its top rebounder. Dixon, Jr. (11.5 ppg) rounds out the double-digit scorers for Memphis, which puts up 79.7 ppg on 48.1 percent field goal efficiency, while allowing more than 10 points fewer (69.1 ppg), with foes shooting a mere 29.5 percent from beyond the arc.
UConn dominated USF in every aspect of the game earlier this week, permitting the Bulls a mere 14 points in the opening half, as the Huskies led by nearly 30 points at the break. When the dust had finally settled, the home team shot 52.8 percent from the field, compared to only 24.0 percent for the overmatched visitors. Balanced scoring was the order of the day for UConn, as Daniels tallied 12 points and Kentan Facey had 10 as part of an offensive display that saw a dozen players score.
Napier has been a force all season long for coach Kevin Ollie's club, as he is netting 17.3 ppg while serving as one of the more productive playmakers in the country with his 133 total assists. Daniels (13.5 ppg, 5.6 rpg) and Ryan Boatright (12.0 ppg) lend support for a team that churns out 75.6 ppg while yielding only 63.4 ppg. Opponents are shooting just 38.3 percent from the field against the Huskies, who are in the black with regard to both rebounding (+2.5) and turnovers (+1.3).