This article was written by Staff Writer Dylan Fearon
The Huskies take on the Memphis Tigers Thursday night in search of their second straight conference win. Connecticut (13-3, 1-2) is going to have to do a lot to defeat the #17 team in the country, and it all starts with rebounding. One of the biggest problems that the Huskies have had this season is banging the defensive glass and corralling rebounds, and they rank 164th in the country in rebounds per game. Memphis (12-3, 3-1) enters the 7 P.M. ET tilt with a two-game winning streak in the American Athletic Conference, including a big road win against then-No. 12 Louisville.
The Tigers now enter a 4 game homestand. The players that make the Tigers roar are Joe Jackson and Shaq Goodwin. A 6-1 senior out of Memphis, TN, Joe Jackson has improved every year in his long Tiger career. Jackson leads the team in points per game (14.7) and assists per game (3.9). He is a versatile guard with great speed. He has struggled with his shooting lately but is great from the charity stripe. Jackson is also just 71 points away from eclipsing the 1500-point mark for his career. Shaq Goodwin is also a major piece to the Tigers team. A sophomore that is listed at 6-9 and 242 pounds is having an exceptional sophomore campaign, averaging 13.2 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. The whole Memphis roster is filled with big men and it will give the Huskies problems for 40 minutes.
The Huskies are not going to go quietly though. Shabazz Napier is one of the best players in the country. The senior guard is one of the only players in the NCAA that is averaging 16+ points, 6+ rebounds and 6+ assists per game this season. He was a big part of the 2010 National Championship team, and is a great leader on and off the court. Another player that has to contribute a lot is DeAndre Daniels. Kevin Ollie is going to need Daniels to rebound all night long, and at 6-9 he is going to need to use his size in the paint if UConn are going to have any chance of winning. Both teams have been a bit inconsistent this season.
The Huskies have quality wins over Florida, Indiana and at Washington, but have tough losses to Houston, Stanford and Southern Methodist. UConn started 9-0 but have gone 4-3 in their last 7 games. Memphis has big time victories against Oklahoma State and Louisville, but have lost to Cincinnati at home by 16 and to Oklahoma State by 21. This game is going to be very close until the end, but the Tigers overall have a better team and are playing better right now. Napier will only be able to do so much, and it will be the Tigers that win at the FedExForum. Joe Jackson will drop at least 22 points in the victory.
Prediction: Memphis 75, UConn 71
UConnDoIt’s Staff Writer Ryan Ratty’s Prediction: UConn 74, Memphis 68