Memphis-N. Iowa Preview


Memphis entered the Battle 4 Atlantis as one of four ranked teams in possibly the most impressive in-season tournament field this year.

Following a pair of losses, the Tigers are just trying to get one win before they leave the Bahamas.

No. 19 Memphis will face Northern Iowa for the first time in the tournament's seventh-place game on Saturday.

After being overwhelmed by VCU's 3-point shooting in a 78-65 opening-round loss on Thursday, Memphis (2-2) had no answer for Minnesota's Andre Hollins in Friday's consolation semifinal. The Tigers lost 84-75, and surrendered a career-high 41 points to Hollins - the most points scored by one player against Memphis since 2005.

The Tigers allowed the Golden Gophers to shoot 51.0 percent, with Hollins, a Memphis native, going 12 of 16 from the field and 5 of 5 from 3-point range. Memphis remains without an impressive win this season, only defeating North Florida and Samford.

"All the criticism and blame always fall on me as it should," said coach Josh Pastner, whose team started 6-5 last year before finishing 26-9. "But there is no need to push the panic button. This is just part of the journey. We still have a chance to be scary good with all the talent we have."

The Tigers hit 57.7 percent of their shots in the first half but went cold in the second, shooting 35.1 percent. Hollins outscored Memphis 9-3 in the game's final 1:14. Memphis also faltered at the free throw line late, going 5 for 12 in the second half after hitting 9 of their 10 foul shots in the first period.

"We had chances down the stretch but we turned the ball over and missed a load of free throws," Pastner said. "Boy, did that bite us in the butt."

The Tigers did get a career-high 15 points from D.J. Stephens, who set a personal best with three 3-pointers and also recorded seven rebounds. Memphis had better luck from the perimeter as a team, going 5 of 11 after hitting 12 of 41 (29.3 percent) in its first three games.

But Pastner will need better play from starting point guard Joe Jackson, who scored two points in seven minutes Friday.

"Joe's going to be better than that," Pastner said. "We know he will be better. I believe in Joe and he will snap out of it."

Northern Iowa (3-2) gave No. 2 Louisville all it could handle in a five-point loss Thursday but was blown out by Stanford 66-50 Friday.

The Panthers struggled with their shots, going 17 of 46 and hitting 6 of their 22 3-point attempts. Leading scorer Deon Mitchell - who entered the tournament averaging a team-best 17.7 points - was again held in check, scoring nine. He was 2 of 10 for six points Thursday.

Northern Iowa also committed 16 turnovers against Stanford, which the Cardinal converted into 26 points.

"Now we have to play another good team,'' Panthers coach Ben Jacobson said. "We have a chance to take advantage of another opportunity.''