Northwestern St.-Memphis Preview


Avenging its only loss of the season has given Memphis a large boost of confidence, but coach Josh Pastner made it clear that his team can't bask for too long in its high-profile victory.

The 16th-ranked Tigers get a chance to prepare for their next big matchup with back-to-back games against unheralded opponents, beginning with a visit from Northwestern State on Saturday.

Memphis (5-1) was blown out 101-80 at Oklahoma State on Nov. 19 but didn't appear intimidated in a rematch in Sunday's Old Spice Classic championship game at Orlando. The Tigers rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit for a 73-68 win over the then-No. 5 Cowboys.

"It's great to come back from a 10-point deficit against a team like Oklahoma State," forward Austin Nichols said. "It gives us a ton of confidence. We've just got to keep pushing."

Shaq Goodwin matched a season high with 17 points while pulling down eight rebounds. Leading scorer Joe Jackson missed seven of 10 shots but hit four pivotal free throws in the final 11 seconds.

"We needed to have course correction, and we corrected some of the course," Pastner said. "We're not a finished product. There are a lot of games to be played. We don't have time to digest the praise because if you digest the praise, it becomes poisonous."

After their first win over a ranked team in Pastner's five seasons, the Tigers might get their next chance to face a Top 25 opponent at the Jimmy V Classic in New York on Dec. 17. Before that game against No. 15 Florida, Memphis will face the Demons (3-3) then Arkansas-Little Rock on Dec. 13.

Northwestern State has lost all five matchups with the Tigers, and among those was one of its seven consecutive losses to ranked teams since an upset of Iowa in the 2006 NCAA tournament, its only win over a Top 25 opponent in school history.

The Demons fell 94-79 in their only visit to FedExForum on Nov. 17, 2010, and head into this one after ending a three-game skid with a 107-100 victory over Niagara last Saturday. Senior forward DeQuan Hicks had a season-high 22 points, and leading scorer Jalan West (18.0 points per game) had 20 off the bench along with a season-best 10 assists.

It's been feast or famine in terms of scoring this season for Northwestern State. It's averaged 103.3 points in its victories, including one at Auburn on Nov. 15, and 76.0 in its losses.

Memphis has won 14 in a row at home since losing to No. 6 Louisville last December - its only defeat in its last 25 games at FedExForum.