Record: 15-10, 7-5 AAC
Head Coach: Josh Pastner
For the first time since Josh Pastner's first season, the Memphis Tigers are in danger of missing the NCAA Tournament. With an overall record of 15-10 and a conference record of 7-5, the Tigers have no signature wins out of conference. They had opportunities, with Wichita State, Baylor, Oklahoma State, and Gonzaga on the non-conference schedule. The Tigers lost all four of those games by an average of just under 19 points. For the Tigers to make the Tournament, they are most likely going to need to win the AAC Tournament in Hartford.
In conference play, Memphis has only one win against the top six teams in conference, over Cincinnati at home, 63-50, on January 15th. Sophomore Austin Nichols led the way with 18 points and 7 rebounds while the Tigers were able to shoot 46.9% from the field against one of the best defensive teams in the nation. Memphis's losses in conference include SMU, Tulane, Tulsa, Temple, and ECU. Against the Pirates, Memphis shot just 36.5% from the field while turning the ball over 19 times.
Like most teams in the American, Memphis is very good on the defensive end. With a roster full of athletes, the Tigers rank 33rd in Kenpom's adjusted defensive efficiency while allowing 61.3 PPG which ranks 55th in the nation. Memphis is one of the best shot blocking teams in the nation, ranking 4th in the nation with 6.7 BPG.
Pastner will go as many as 10 or 11 deep in some games. Here are the key players in the rotation:
#4 Austin Nichols, Sophomore, Forward (6-9, 228): ***MAY NOT PLAY*** Sidelined with an ankle injury for almost two weeks, Nichols has now missed two games in a row and will be a game-time decision for the game. He is averaging 13.3 PPG, 6.1 RPG, and an absurd 3.3 BPG which ranks 3rd in the nation. Nichols is shooting 51.0% from the field and has the ability to score with both hands extremely well. Named AAC Rookie of the Year last season, the sophomore has not disappointed this season as he is averaging 15.8 PPG and 6.8 RPG in conference play. If Nichols plays, it will give the Tigers a huge boost. If he doesn't, Memphis may struggle down low.
#2 Shaq Goodwin, Junior, Forward (6-9, 231): Sporting some of the best hair in the nation, Shaq Goodwin is averaging 8.5 PPG, 7.0 RPG, and 1.0 BPG while shooting 53.8% from the field. He has not been as consistent of a scorer as Memphis has needed him to be this season, but his rebounding has been extremely impressive. In the loss to Temple, he pulled down a remarkable 23 rebounds. When Goodwin brings a lot of energy, he is nearly unstoppable, especially on the glass. Goodwin is averaging 8.1 PPG and 7.6 RPG in conference play.
#0 Trashon Burrell, Junior, Forward (6-7, 182): Averaging 8.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG, and 2.1 APG this season while shooting 45.8% from the field and 13-48 from behind the arc. Burrell is extremely athletic and is a very good scorer as he finished 3rd in the NJCAA last season with 25.2 PPG. According to Pastner, the only thing holding him back from being an elite player is his defense, but he's starting to figure it out with experience. Burrell is averaging 5.5 PPG and 4.4 RPG in conference play.
#20 Avery Woodson, Sophomore, Guard (6-2, 196): The team's best shooter by far, he is averaging 8.5 PPG, 2.4 RPG, and 1.1 SPG. Woodson was brought in from Junior College to be a knock-down shooter, and he has very much produced, shooting 40.6% from the field and 41.5% from three. He is a tough, hard-nosed player who can really stretch the floor for the Tigers' offense. Woodson is averaging 9.5 PPG in conference play while shooting 43.1% from behind the arc.
#15 Kedren Johnson, Junior, Guard (6-4, 218): Averaging 5.1 PPG and 2.1 APG while shooting 39.3% from the field and 11-40 from behind the arc. Johnson was expected to be the team's point guard who was supposed to help dramatically, but has struggled due to being out of shape. The potential is there for him, though, as he can handle the basketball, is a very good passer at times, and has the ability to really get to the hoop. Johnson is averaging 6.3 PPG and 2.8 APG in conference play.
#5 Nick King, Sophomore, Forward (6-7, 225): Along with Nichols, King is one of two players who has made a successful jump from his freshman season to his sophomore season. The 6-foot-7 forward is averaging 7.8 PPG and 5.0 RPG while shooting 39.6% from the field. King is a great rebounder who gives everything he has when he is on the court. He is averaging 6.5 PPG and 3.5 RPG in conference play.
#1 Markel Crawford, Freshman, Guard (6-4, 200): Averaging 5.9 PPG, 2.3 RPG, and 1.9 APG this season while shooting 43.6% from the field and 21-61 from behind the arc. Despite not playing competitive basketball for two straight seasons, Crawford has been a nice piece for Pastner who will continue to develop. Pastner says he is an extremely smart player who has some of the highest basketball IQ on the team. Crawford is averaging 7.3 PPG in conference play.
Memphis is coached by the very likeable Josh Pastner who is in his 6th season with the team, holding a 145-56 record. Pastner has now led the Tigers to the NCAA Tournament four years in a row but has never made it to the Sweet 16. Before becoming the head coach, the 37 year old was an assistant under John Calipari for the 2008-2009 season. Before his time at Memphis, Pastner was an assistant at his alma mater, Arizona, from 2002-2008. As a walk-on, Pastner was a part of the 1997 Arizona National Championship team.