SMU-Memphis Preview

The Associated Press

SMU has multiple ways to secure the No. 3 seed in the American Athletic Conference tournament.

The 18th-ranked Mustangs can guarantee that spot with a win at No. 20 Memphis in Saturday's regular-season finale and avoid a quick rematch with the Tigers on their home floor.

"We need to win. ... Hopefully we've got a couple of more games after that," guard Nick Russell said.

Even if Connecticut wins at Louisville on Saturday, the Mustangs (23-7, 12-5) would take the No. 3 seed if they also win because of their 2-0 record against the Huskies. An SMU loss and a UConn loss would require a three-way tiebreaker for the No. 3 seed that the Mustangs would also win by virtue of a combined 3-1 record against the Huskies and Tigers (22-8, 11-6).

The only way SMU will have to face Memphis again in Thursday's quarterfinals at FedExForum is with a loss and a Connecticut win. The Tigers would be the No. 5 seed in that game or a matchup with the Huskies unless one scenario happens Saturday.

Memphis would need a win along with losses from Louisville and Cincinnati to gain the No. 4 seed. The Tigers would get the No. 4 seed off a combined 2-2 record against the league's top two teams while SMU is 1-3.

SMU knocked off then-No. 21 Connecticut 64-55 in its most recent road game Feb. 23 but had a three-game overall win streak snapped Wednesday with an 84-71 defeat to No. 11 Louisville.

The Mustangs shot 51.1 percent but allowed the Cardinals to make 13 shots from 3-point range and outscore them 52-41 in the second half. Russell had a season-high 18 points, six rebounds and five assists in his final home game.

"We have to move forward, just have to keep our heads up," he said.

Memphis has won eight in a row at home, beating Louisville 72-66 last Saturday, but it fell 97-84 at No. 15 Cincinnati on Thursday.

The Tigers scored 52 points in the final 20 minutes but couldn't complete a rally from an 18-4 deficit, getting as close as one point on three occasions early in the second half. The Bearcats had 59 points after halftime.

Joe Jackson led Memphis with 21 points and six assists, and Michael Dixon Jr. had 16 of his 19 points in the second half.

"We've just got to get ready for Saturday. This game is behind us," said freshman forward Austin Nichols, who had 17 points to extend his streak of double-figure games to five.

Nichols had just two points in an 87-72 loss at SMU on Feb. 1 while Jackson scored 22. Markus Kennedy (21 points on 10-of-10 shooting, 15 rebounds) and Nic Moore (14 points, 10 assists) helped the Mustangs take command during a 58-point second half.

The teams have split their last six matchups but Memphis has won seven straight meetings at home, including 63-45 on Jan. 21, 2012.

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