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Tulane-Memphis Preview

AP - Sports

Memphis is leaving Conference USA after another undefeated season.

The top-seeded and 20th-ranked Tigers would also like to take a third straight tournament championship with them, and they'll head down what seems to be a friendly path starting with Thursday's quarterfinal matchup versus Tulane in Tulsa.

Memphis (27-4) was a founding member of C-USA in 1995, but the team is leaving for the revamped Big East later this year and it's making its final season very memorable.

The Tigers won all 16 regular-season conference games, going unbeaten for the fourth time. They had little trouble accomplishing that feat for the first time since 2008-09, cruising to an 86-71 win over UAB on Saturday.

"That was one of the goals coming into the season," guard Chris Crawford said after scoring a season-high 20 points against the Blazers. "That's another goal to check off. We wanted to leave the conference undefeated."

Their next task will be to win a seventh tournament title in eight years - though the 2008 championship was later vacated - and it would certainly be a stunner to see them go down Thursday. Memphis has won 21 in a row over Tulane (19-13) by an average of 19.2 points, including a 71-60 victory on Jan. 22.

The winner of this meeting will face either Tulsa or East Carolina in the semifinals Friday, and the Tigers own 14-1 records in the last 15 meetings against both of them.

Crawford's recent success could keep Memphis rolling. The junior has scored 9.3 points per game this season, but he's averaged 16.6 while hitting 53.8 percent from the floor - 18 of 34 from beyond the arc - over the last five contests.

He's totaled 29 points and 12 assists in the past two meetings with the Green Wave.

Joe Jackson had 16 points versus Tulane earlier this season, and he's coming off a superb effort in the regular-season finale. The junior guard made 6 of 10 from the floor to finish with 17 points, 10 assists, nine rebounds and six steals.

"I think Joe was phenomenal," coach Josh Pastner said after the win over UAB. "Our team is so much better when he's playing like that. That's why our consistency has been so good is because Joe has been so consistent."

Tulane is getting another chance to beat Memphis for the first time since Feb. 9, 2000, thanks in large part to Ricky Tarrant sinking a 3-pointer with 7 seconds left to secure a 66-64 win over Marshall in the opening round Wednesday.

Tarrant finished with 21 points while making 5 of 11 from behind the arc, and he's averaging 19.6 points and 5.3 assists over the past 10 games. The sophomore guard has also had some success against the Tigers, totaling 36 points in two meetings.

Josh Davis, the Green Wave's leader with averages of 17.5 points and 10.3 boards, struggled from the floor in the latest matchup. The junior forward missed 10 of 14 field-goal attempts and had five turnovers while finishing with 13 points and 12 rebounds.

Tulane is trying to snap a 27-game losing streak against ranked opponents, dating to a victory over No. 25 North Carolina State on Dec. 22, 1999. Eight of those subsequent defeats have come at the hands of the Tigers.

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