Terry Larrier will not be playing, starters are Jalen Adams, Antwoine Anderson, Christian Vital, Isaiah Whaley, Josh Carlton
20:00 - Memphis wins the tip and starts the game with a three-point play...
15:44 - Memphis up 10-4. Jalen Adams has all of the Huskies’ points and shots are falling for the Tigers right now. They hit their first three and are 50% from the field at the moment.
10:42 - Memphis leading 17-11. Offense has been a challenge for UConn and it’s even harder without Larrier. Huskies have 5 turnovers and only Jalen Adams is effective, he’s got nine of the UConn’s points.
7:45 - This game is going from bad to worse, as Memphis is ahead, 22-11.
3:36 - UConn finds some offensive life but Memphis responds as well, Tigers on top 28-18.
1:08 - Things continue to go not well, Memphis leads, 32-18. Huskies have 11 turnovers.
0:00 - Memphis 32, UConn 18
20:00 - Alright let’s do this I guess
14:55 - 43-25, Memphis.
11:47 - The score is 49-27.
Lot’s more sub-optimal basketball
Memphis wins 73-49
After three straight wins, UConn travels to Memphis to face the Tigers, who are operating on a three-game winning streak of their own.
Memphis (12-6, 3-2 AAC) has gotten off to a much better start in their second season under head coach Tubby Smith. The well-traveled Smith has a history of turning around struggling programs, and while the Tigers are unlikely to reach the heights of the John Calipari era again, they are clearly a team on the rise.
With 13 games left on their schedule, though, it’s hard to tell whether this is a rebuilding year or a year they could make a run for a first-round bye in the American Athletic Conference tournament. A revitalized UConn team will put them to the test tonight.
Memphis ranks only 162nd in KenPom rating, compared to UConn’s 127th, as of Monday. They’re an offensive-minded team, having struggled defensively for extended stretches this year. And while they’re a poor three-point shooting team (which increasingly seems to be the identity of the American conference), they succeed at ugly-ball. They crash the offensive boards, get fouled often, and cycle players through the rotation.
The one player who rarely sits is Jeremiah Martin, a junior score-first point guard who is the undisputed leader of the team. Martin averages 18.5 points per game, and his scoring ability has only improved with the added volume on his workload. He leads his team in assists, steals, free throw attempts, both components of Box Plus/Minus, both Offensive and Defensive Rating, and he’s second in total rebounds.
While Martin is absolutely vital to his team, he’s far from a perfect player. He can be turnover prone and he isn’t great when shooting from distance, two issues that have plagued the entire Memphis squad this year. Their one reliable three-point shooter is Kyvon Davenport, a junior college transfer who has been the Tigers’ only other standout this season. The system Smith has his team playing this season emphasizes a dependence on role, and Martin and Davenport are the only two who get the green light to break it.
UConn (10-7, 3-2) has plenty of options to counter the Memphis base strategy. Placing their best perimeter defender—Christian Vital—on Martin will help the Huskies, as will avoiding matching up Terry Larrier, who often loses his man on the perimeter, on Davenport. Kevin Ollie is better off letting Isaiah Whaley guard the Tigers’ 6-8 marksman.
One other point of emphasis must be avoiding foul trouble, which can be difficult against a team that actively seeks out contact. The Huskies don’t have their deepest roster this season, and will struggle to compete if they’re forced to rely on their bench unit.
Memphis has some defensive weaknesses around the perimeter, which creates an advantage for the Huskies and their perimeter-oriented offense. They’ll need to hit their threes, but with Larrier’s rate from outside holding steady and Vital’s trending upward, they have two players capable of executing that gameplan.
Whoever wins will break the deadlock for fourth place in the conference standings, which is much more meaningful this season, the first that the AAC Tournament gives first round byes to the top four finishers. Keep that in mind as these two teams face off in perhaps UConn’s first game with tangible stakes all season.