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The Scouting Report: Memphis Tigers

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With Austin Nichols out, Memphis will look to Shaq Goodwin (17.0 PPG in last 2 games) to carry the load for the Tigers' front court

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Record: 17-12, 9-7 AAC
Head Coach: Josh Pastner

Kenpom: 84
RPI: 90
BPI: 88

In Memphis's first game against UConn on February 19th, Kedren Johnson had a season-high 21 points on 6-9 shooting, 4-5 from three, and dished out 6 assists in a 75-72 win.  It was Johnson's best game in a Memphis uniform by far.  The Tigers shot 47.3% from the field and 8-19 from three while Huskies shot 40.6% from the field and just 5-20 from three.  Austin Nichols, Markel Crawford, and Avery Woodson also scored in double figures.

Since then, the Tigers have played three games, going 1-2.  Coming off a victory over the Huskies, Josh Pastner's squad traveled to UCF where they were able to escape a late comeback by the Knights, winning 75-65 in overtime.  Nichols led the way with 20 points off the bench.  Memphis then had back-to-back games against the top two teams in the league in SMU and Tulsa. Despite being tied at 48 with the Mustangs with just under 10 minutes to play, the Tigers could not keep pace, losing 66-57. Against the Golden Hurricane, Memphis could not hold on to a 9-point lead in the second half, losing 74-72 in overtime.

Like most teams in the American, Memphis is very solid on the defensive end.  With a roster full of athletes, the Tigers rank 54th in Kenpom's adjusted defensive efficiency while allowing 62.4 PPG which ranks 72nd in the nation.  Memphis is one of the best shot blocking teams in the nation, ranking 3rd in the nation with 6.8 BPG.

Pastner will go as many as 10 deep in some games.

Key Players

#4 Austin Nichols, Sophomore, Forward (6-9, 228): ***WILL NOT PLAY*** Nichols will not play in this game after re-aggravating an ankle injury and may be out throughout at least the AAC Tourney.  He is averaging 13.3 PPG, 6.1 RPG, and an absurd 3.4 BPG which ranks 2nd in the nation.  Nichols is shooting 49.7% 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, averaging 14.9 PPG and 6.6 RPG in conference play.  Nichols got off to a hot start in Memphis's first game against the Huskies and finished with 16 points, 6 rebounds, and 7 blocks in the win.  This is a big big loss for the Tigers' front court.

#2 Shaq Goodwin, Junior, Forward (6-9, 231): While sporting some of the best hair in the nation, Goodwin is averaging 9.1 PPG, 7.0 RPG, and 1.2 BPG and shooting 53.5% 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, recording a season-high 23 rebounds in a game against Temple earlier this season. When Goodwin brings the energy, he can be close to unstoppable, especially on the glass. Goodwin filled up the stat sheet in the win over UConn earlier this season, finishing with 8 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 blocks.  He is averaging 17 points in his last two games (SMU, Tulsa).

#20 Avery Woodson, Sophomore, Guard (6-2, 196): The team's best shooter by far, he is averaging 8.6 PPG, 2.5 RPG, and 1.1 SPG.  Woodson was brought in from Junior College to be a knock-down shooter, and he has lived up to that, shooting 39.2% from the field and 39.7% from three. He is a tough, hard-nosed player who can really stretch the floor for the Tigers' offense. Woodson is averaging 9.4 PPG in conference play while shooting 39.8% from behind the arc. He finished with 11 points and 4 rebounds in the win over UConn earlier this season, shooting 4-7 from the field and 3-5 from deep.

#0 Trashon Burrell, Junior, Forward (6-7, 182): Averaging 8.4 PPG, 5.3 RPG, and 2.0 APG this season while shooting 45.0% from the field and 14-53 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 5.9 PPG and 4.5 RPG in conference play.  He played just 13 minutes in the first meeting between these two teams, scoring 3 points and pulling down 5 rebounds.

#15 Kedren Johnson, Junior, Guard (6-4, 218): Averaging 6.2 PPG and 2.5 APG while shooting 40.9% from the field and 19-56 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 7.9 PPG and 3.3 APG in conference play and has scored in double figures 7 different times.  He had a season-high 21 points against UConn earlier this season, shooting 6-9 from the field and 4-5 from three while also dishing out 6 assists.

#1 Markel Crawford, Freshman, Guard (6-4, 200): Averaging 5.9 PPG, 2.3 RPG, and 1.9 APG this season while shooting 41.5% from the field and 24-76 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 7.0 PPG in conference play.  He scored 14 points on 5-11 shooting in the win over UConn earlier this season.

#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 6-7 forward is averaging 7.6 PPG and 5.3 RPG while shooting 40.0% 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 4.1 RPG in conference play.  King played 7 minutes in the win over UConn but recorded no stats.

Memphis is coached by the very likeable Josh Pastner who is in his 6th season with the team where he is 147-58.  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.