Memphis looks to follow an impressive road victory over the favorite to win the American Athletic Conference by avoiding a setback against the team at the bottom of the league standings.
The visiting No. 24 Tigers hope to build on their win over the defending national champion and keep banged-up Temple winless in AAC play Saturday.Coming off a 16-point home loss to Cincinnati last weekend, Memphis (11-3, 2-1) bounced back nicely by beating No. 12 Louisville 73-67 on Thursday. Shaq Goodwin and Joe Jackson each had 15 points to lead five players in double figures for the Tigers, who erased a 61-55 deficit by closing with an 18-6 run."We've been preaching about our principles (since the Cincinnati loss)," said freshman Austin Nichols, who had 10 points and seven rebounds. "Each and every player knows what we are trying to do and what we want to do on offense or defense."Memphis shot 50.9 percent while holding the Cardinals to 39.1 and outscoring them 42-34 in the paint. Jackson averages a team-leading 15.0 points and has totaled 33 in two AAC road contests."The guys really hung together and made big plays," coach Josh Pastner said. "Players made shots."Pastner is grateful for another win he won't dwell on, but hopes his team will use it as a springboard for better things to come. Memphis won three straight before shooting a season-low 33.3 percent last Saturday and getting outscored 42-27 in the second half by Cincinnati."I don't take a win for granted ever," he said. "It's so hard to win ball games now, so I never take the wins for granted. I don't care who the win is."We can enjoy this, but then we have to get back to work for the game on Saturday."Memphis and Temple have split 10 previous meetings. The Tigers won the last two, most recently 78-77 at Madison Square Garden in the 2002 NIT semifinals.While Memphis is in a three-way tie for second in the initial season of the AAC, the Owls (5-8, 0-3) join Connecticut as the only teams without a conference win and have the worst overall record. They've lost three straight overall and at home."It's a terrific league," said coach Fran Dunphy, whose team is giving up an AAC-worst 75.7 points per game. "We're in the soup here. We've got to find a way out."Memphis is really talented. I am very impressed with their team. We're going to have our hands full."With forward Dan Dingle recovering from knee surgery and freshman Mark Williams sidelined by a sprained ankle that also could keep him out of this contest, Temple finished Thursday's 82-75 home loss to South Florida with seven available players after starting guard Will Cummings left with concussion-like symptoms.It's uncertain if Cummings, averaging 16.5 points and a team-high 4.0 assists, will play Saturday.Cummings is the team's second-leading scorer behind Dalton Pepper, who averages 16.7 points. Anthony Lee averages a conference-high 9.5 rebounds after getting 10 along with a team-best 22 points Thursday.Facing its first Top 25 opponent this season, Temple has won three straight and six of seven home games against ranked foes.