Search This Blog

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Preview - #6 Tigers @ UTEP

No. 6 Tigers at UTEP

March 1, 2007
Don Haskins Center, El Paso, Texas, 8 p.m. CST
TV, radio: ESPN, WREC-AM (600)

Records: Memphis 25-3 (14-0 Conference USA), UTEP 14-14 (6-8)
Series standing: Memphis leads, 5-1

Latest line: Memphis by 12


Memphis finishes the regular season with a two-game Texas road trip. The No. 6-ranked Tigers are aiming for their first undefeated conference record in school history. Memphis has already clinched its second consecutive C-USA championship. ... The Tigers have won 17 straight games, the longest streak in the nation. No team in the country has won 18 straight this season. Clemson, Florida and Wisconsin all had their win streaks snapped at 17. ... Tonight is John Calipari's 500th game as a college head coach but only his second against one of his former assistants. The first occurred earlier this season, when Memphis beat Lamar, coached by Steve Roccaforte. ... The Tigers are again establishing a reputation as one of the best defensive teams in the nation. Opponents are shooting 38.3 percent against Memphis, which ranks eighth nationally. Last year, the Tigers were second in defensive field goal percentage at 38.0. Memphis is also averaging 10.2 steals per game, which is sixth in the country. Memphis has forced 15 or more turnovers in 20 of its 28 games. The Tigers have won 19 of those.


After a 12-7 start, UTEP appeared to be a top-four C-USA team, but the Miners have struggled since a Jan. 24 loss to Rice. UTEP lost at East Carolina last Saturday, 79-78, giving the Pirates their first C-USA victory. Still, UTEP's 14 victories ranks former Tiger assistant Tony Barbee No. 3 among first-year coaches in school history. Former Memphis staff members Milt Wagner and Mike Babul are on Barbee's staff. Former Tiger walk-on Nathaniel Root is UTEP's video coordinator. ... Sophomore Stefon Jackson has emerged as one of the league's best players, averaging 18.5 points per game.


Jackson is UTEP's most dangerous player by far, which means he'll see a lot of the 6-6 Anderson, the Tigers' best defender. If the Tigers can keep him in check, the Miners will have difficulty out-scoring Memphis.

-- Dan Wolken

No comments: