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Tigers and Mustangs square off in AAC action

<p>Jockeying for position in the American Athletic Conference continues, as the 22nd-ranked Memphis Tigers come calling on the SMU Mustangs.</p>

Dallas, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Jockeying for position in the American Athletic Conference continues, as the 22nd-ranked Memphis Tigers come calling on the SMU Mustangs.

While this is the first year for the AAC, Memphis has won 16 straight conference road games, 19 in a row away from FedExForum all told when you factor in its 3-0 run in the Conference USA Tournament last year. The Tigers are riding a four-game win streak at the moment, and their most recent triumph occurred on Wednesday in a 69-59 decision at UCF. Overall, Memphis is 16-4 and brings a 6-2 league ledger into the weekend.

SMU has enjoyed a banner campaign as well, logging a 16-5 overall record, which includes a 5-3 mark in AAC play. The Mustangs recently had a five-game win streak snapped in a 78-71 loss at USF on Tuesday night. The Ponies are a perfect 10-0 at home this season, with their most impressive victory at Moody Coliseum coming in a 74-65 verdict versus UConn on Jan. 4.

These two teams are certainly familiar with each other after both called Conference USA home prior to jumping ship for the American. Memphis has won 11 of the 14 meetings in the series with SMU, but two of the Mustangs' victories have come in the last five encounters.

The teams will wrap up the 2013-14 regular season against each other, this time on the Tigers' home court on March 8.

Joe Jackson scored 17 points, Chris Crawford and Michael Dixon, Jr. tacked on 12 apiece, and Geron Johnson hit for 10, all of which were needed as Memphis topped UCF earlier this week by 10 points. The Tigers knocked down 51.1 percent of their field goal attempts, including 7-of-12 3-point tries, all while holding the Knights to 39.7 percent overall, which encompassed a dismal 5-of-23 effort from beyond the arc. A 16-4 edge in points from the foul line clearly helped UM's cause.

Memphis is lighting up the scoreboard to the tune of 80.2 ppg, hitting 48.4 percent of its total shots, but just 32.5 percent of its long-range launches. The team's defensive effort has resulted in more than 16 turnovers per tilt by the opposition. Jackson (14.2 ppg, 4.3 apg) leads the way in scoring and assists, while Goodwin (12.9 ppg, 6.9 rpg) performs well at both ends of the court. Three others net between 8.4 and 9.1 ppg.

The Mustangs were rather lax on defense in their recent outing against USF, as the Bulls made good on 53.1 percent of their field goal attempts, despite missing the mark on seven of their 10 3-point opportunities. SMU meanwhile, connected on 49 percent of its total shots, draining six treys. The Ponies were outscored at the foul line (29-23), in the paint (38-28) and out on the break (14-2). Nic Moore hit four triples en route to 23 points, and three others wound up in double figures as well, including Markus Kennedy who tallied 11 points and eight boards, helping offset his ghastly eight turnovers before finally fouling out.

SMU has only two players averaging double digits in the scoring column this season, as Moore and Kennedy are netting 13.9 and 11.7 ppg, respectively. The team as a whole is generating 71.9 ppg while allowing 61.2 ppg, and the Mustangs lead the conference in both field goal percentage (.487) and field goal percentage defense (.370). They are also in the black with regard to rebounding (+7.6) and turnover margins (+0.3).

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