Can Memphis get in to the NCAA as an At-Large? Tiger Game Notes

Memphis Tigers
Memphis Tigers Photo credit University of Memphis

Memphis Looks to Hand East Carolina First Home Loss Saturday Afternoon

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The Memphis Tigers' stretch of three road games in four contests continues Saturday afternoon in Greenville, N.C., against East Carolina. Tip-off against the Pirates is set for 3 p.m. CT on ESPN+, and the Tigers will be looking for their fifth win in the last seven games.

This current portion of the schedule, with road games in Orlando, Greenville and then Tulsa next week, will cover approximately 2,000 miles.

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Five different Tigers, Emoni BatesJalen DurenAlex LomaxEarl Timberlake and DeAndre Williams, have missed at least one game this month due to injury. Williams, Bates and Duren are Memphis' three leading scorers this season, and Timberlake is seventh and also averaging nearly 20 minutes per game. Lomax is averaging 23.9 minutes per outing.

The Tigers and Pirates are scheduled to play both their season meetings in the span of 13 days, as East Carolina plays in Memphis at the end of the month on Jan. 27. Memphis has won six-straight meetings against the Pirates, dating back to an 88-85 overtime loss in Greenville on Feb. 3, 2018.

East Carolina enters Saturday's game with a perfect 9-0 mark at home and a 10-5 overall record. The Pirates are 1-2 in AAC play, handing Tulane its lone conference loss so far this season and dropping road games at Temple and Cincinnati by three and eight points, respectively.

East Carolina features the AAC's third-leading scorer this season, Tristen Newton, who is averaging 17.7 points per game. Newton also dishes out 5.1 assists per game, second-best in the conference. Brandon Johnson ranks third in the league in rebounding at 7.1 boards per game.

Following Saturday's game, the Tigers return to FedExForum to host SMU next Thursday, Jan. 20. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m., and the game will be televised on ESPN2.

GAME DETAILS
Memphis Tigers (9-6, 3-2 AAC) at East Carolina Pirates (10-5, 1-2 AAC)
Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022 | 3 p.m. CT
Williams Arena (7,100); Greenville, N.C.
Television: ESPN+ (Patrick Johnson, pxp; Si Seymour, analysis)

BY THE NUMBERS

12.3: The Tigers' average margin of victory during its current six-game winning streak against East Carolina, with three victories coming by double digits and three by seven points or fewer.3: 3-pointers needed by Tyler Harris to tie Jeremy Hunt (2002-07) for fifth place on Memphis' career leaderboard (167).14: Rebounds by Emoni Bates in the last two games after having 14 in his six games prior.6.5: Memphis' average margin of defeat in its six losses this season, with four coming by four points or fewer.8: Consecutive games with a new starting lineup for the Tigers; Memphis has used 11 different starting lineups overall with 11 different players making a start.

THE LAST TIME OUT

The Tigers, playing with only seven players, trimmed a 19-point deficit to seven but could not finish the comeback in a 74-64 loss at UCF Wednesday night in Orlando, Fla.The loss snaps Memphis' three-game winning streak, but the Tigers have still won four of their last six games.Tyler Harris led the Tigers with 15 points, hitting five 3-pointers.He also grabbed four rebounds and had three assists.Emoni Bates finished with 12 points and seven rebounds, and Landers Nolley II added 11 and six assists.Malcolm Dandridge ended the game with 10 points.The Tigers trailed by 15 at the 3:56 mark of the first half but scored eight of the final 10 points of the half to cut the deficit to nine at the break, 36-27.Harris and Nolley II led the Tigers in the first 20 minutes with nine and seven points, respectively.Harris was 3-for-3 from behind the arc in the first.But UCF scored 10 of the first 11 points to start the second half and opened up a 47-28 lead, their largest of the ballgame.The Tigers used an 8-0 run to close within seven, 54-47 with 10:47 to play, but got no closer the rest of the way.The Tigers shot 39.7 percent in the game (25-63) and made eight of their 22 3-point tries (.364).UCF hit 11-of-28 from behind the arc (.393) and had 15 second-chance points off 11 offensive rebounds.Darin Green Jr. led the Knights with 20 points.

NOTING THE OPPONENT

East Carolina returns four starters, all of whom averaged eight or more points per game, from last season's team that went 8-11 overall and 2-10 in AAC play.Newton ranked fourth in the AAC in assists per game last year (4.2), and J.J. Miles was second on the team in 3-point field goals made a year ago.Tremont Robinson-White was fourth in the conference in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.0), and Brandon Suggs scored in double figures nine times last campaign.This season, the Pirates are the AAC's leading 3-point shooting team at a 37.3 percent clip per contest.East Carolina is also the conference's leading assist team (16.2).The Pirates were picked to finish last in this season's preseason coaches poll behind South Florida and Tulane, who tied for ninth.