Memphis-Georgetown Preview

The Associated Press

It's pretty rare when teams from different conferences meet twice in one season. Fans might want yet another matchup between Georgetown and Memphis if this one is much like the first.

Getting revenge in Thursday night's rematch would give the visiting Tigers a badly needed signature win, while the 16th-ranked Hoyas could further grow their confidence heading into a daunting Big East opener.

These teams put on an impressive offensive display at the Maui Invitational on Nov. 23, with Georgetown winning 91-88 in overtime. Four players scored at least 20 points, and both teams shot better than 48 percent from the field and 41 percent on 3-pointers. The game included 12 ties, and the biggest lead after halftime was five points.

Memphis missed 3-point tries at the buzzer in regulation and overtime, but neither was a very good look.

"They made the key plays down the stretch to keep them in it and put them over the top," Tigers coach Josh Pastner said after the loss. "They were the better basketball team in key moments."

That has continued to be the case as Georgetown (9-1) has won seven straight, though the last three have been fairly easy against small-conference teams. Thursday's matchup with previously ranked Memphis could be a better tuneup for its Big East schedule, which begins next Wednesday at No. 4 Louisville.

"This is a confident group," sophomore Markel Starks said after leading the Hoyas with a career-high 18 points in an 81-55 win over American University on Saturday.

"... Moving forward, we're just going to keep getting better."

The Tigers (6-4) haven't gotten better since the Georgetown game. All of their losses have been to teams currently in the Top 25 - two in Maui and more recently to Murray State and Louisville.

They rebounded from those back-to-back defeats to beat Lipscomb 85-75 on Monday.

"We took care of the ball much better today, which is really good for the pace that we play," Pastner said. "... We'll get ready for Georgetown. Like I told our guys, we want to get on a streak and you can't do that until you win that first game."

Memphis isn't scheduled to face another ranked team until Feb. 4 when it plays No. 14 Xavier, making Thursday's game a potentially meaningful one come NCAA tournament selection time.

Poor defense has plagued the Tigers. They allowed at least 70 points for the seventh time Monday and forced just five turnovers.

"There is no issue offensively. We just have to guard people, whether it be man or zone," Pastner said.

The Hoyas haven't had those kinds of problems. Since the Memphis game, Georgetown has allowed an average of 52.0 points and 35.7 percent shooting.

Hollis Thompson has been the Hoyas' best player offensively of late, averaging 16.0 points and 6.6 rebounds over the last five games.

"Somebody is always going to play you harder for one thing than something else and learning to take advantage of the next thing just comes with time and playing in this system," Thompson said.

Leading scorer Jason Clark has averaged 10.3 points and shot 6 of 22 in the last three games while committing 10 turnovers.

While Clark scored a game-high 26 against Memphis, Will Barton led the Tigers with 22 and tops Conference USA with 20.7 per game. Joe Jackson is second on the team at 13.9, but Memphis is 1-3 when he scores at least 20 - including the Georgetown loss.

The Hoyas have won the last three meetings and lead the all-time series 9-2.

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