Memphis, TN (SportsNetwork.com) - The 17th-ranked Memphis Tigers will close out a brief two-game homestand on Saturday afternoon, as they entertain the Jackson State Tigers in a non-conference clash at FedExForum.
Although Jackson State has had a rough go of it through the first two months of the season, sporting just a 4-7 record, it has been on the upswing of late with back-to-back wins over Evansville (57-51) and Louisiana (73-70). This contest will mark JSU's final non-conference bout before its Southwestern Athletic Conference schedule starts up next Saturday versus Alabama A&M.
Memphis has lost just two of its first 10 games this season, both to nationally-ranked teams in Oklahoma State (101-80) and Florida (77-75). It most recently took on Southeast Missouri State on Dec. 21 and came away with a 77-65 win to improve to 5-0 at FedExForum.
In 15 all-time meetings between these two teams, Memphis has come away victorious 14 times, most recently claiming a 70-45 decision at home in November of 2011.
At home against an impressive Louisiana team in its most recent contest, Jackson State snapped a 70-70 tie with just two seconds remaining on a Julysses Nobles 3-pointer to lift it to the dramatic victory. It shot an impressive 45.9 percent from the field on the evening while holding its opponent to a lowly 37.9 percent. Nobles' heroics capped off an impressive showing, as he tallied 14 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Brandon West logged 12 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks, while Javeres Brent and Derell Taylor netted 11 and 10 points, respectively. It was a rare performance for JSU, which more often than not struggles offensively, shooting just 40.9 percent from the field for 64.6 points per game. Noble (16.8 ppg) is the top scoring option but relies heavily on high volume, as he shoots less than 40 percent from the field. West (11.4 ppg) ranks sixth nationally in rebounding with 11.2 per tilt, Brent (10.4 ppg) does most of his damage from beyond the arc (26-of-68).
Memphis put forth a balanced effort in its recent 12-point victory, as it shot 50 percent from the field and forced SEMO into 19 turnovers while committing just eight miscues itself. The game could have been even more lopsided had the team not been ice-cold from 3-point range (2-of-17). Leading the charge was Shaq Goodwin, who was a factor at both ends of the floor with 20 points, eight rebounds, four steals and two blocks. Joe Jackson added 16 points, five assists and four steals, while Chris Crawford pitched in 10 points. On the season, Memphis has gotten used to those type of all-around positive performances, as it outshoots its opponents from the field, 48.3 percent to 43.7 percent, scoring 83.0 points per game while allowing 70.3 ppg. It also benefits from one of the nation's top turnover margins, as it creates 5.5 more takeaways than it commits per tilt. Jackson (15.3 ppg) is not only the leading scorer, but he has tallied twice as many assists (40) as turnovers (20). Goodwin (13.6 ppg, 6.5 rpg, .671 FG percentage) is a mainstay in the frontcourt, Michael Dixon, Jr. scores 10.4 points per game, and Crawford, Austin Nichols and Geron Johnson each net between 8.1 and 9.5 points per outing.