No. 20 Memphis looks to regroup vs. SMU after rout
American Athletic Conference counterparts SMU and No. 20 Memphis meet Saturday at the Tigers’ home arena coming off two vastly different performances.
Memphis (14-4, 3-2 American) shot a dismal 28.6 percent from the floor and 9.5 percent from 3-point range, committed 20 turnovers, and suffered an 80-40 blowout loss Wednesday at Tulsa.
“It’s a little embarrassing, but we’ve got a lot to learn from this game,” forward D.J. Jeffries said via the Memphis official athletic site. “I don’t think anyone in our locker room has lost a game by 40 points. We’ve got to learn from it.”
Although Jeffries noted no player in the current Memphis locker room was part of a 40-point loss previously, the Tigers’ last loss by 40-plus points was three years ago to SMU, coincidentally. Wednesday’s defeat marked Memphis’ worst since a 103-62 loss in March 2017.
These are two different teams in 2020, but SMU (14-4, 4-2) is coming into Saturday’s matchup off a dominant performance.
The Mustangs routed East Carolina 84-64 shooting just below 50 percent from 3-point range.
“It was our best offensive game of the year. Best ball movement, best execution, best spacing and best basketball we have played all year without question on the offensive end,” SMU coach Tim Jankovich said in his postgame press conference.
The 84 points marked the team’s highest output in regulation since a Dec. 23 win over Georgia State, and the Mustangs’ scoring high in league play.
Tyson Jolly knocked down five of SMU’s 15 3-pointers in the win for a game-high 17 points. He was one of three Mustangs in double figures — two more than Memphis had at Tulsa, with Precious Achiuwa’s 10 setting the mark. SMU had five players score at least nine.
The Mustangs now have the No. 22-ranked offense in terms of KenPom.com adjusted efficiency. They rank 14th in the nation in 2-point field-goal shooting at 55 percent, and rank 15th in offensive rebounding percentage with an offensive board every 35.8 percent of opportunities.
A rangy frontcourt of Feron Hunt, Ethan Chargois and Isiaha Mike contribute to that success on the glass. Mike also ranks No. 30 among all Division I players in offensive rating, while shooting 44.1 percent from 3-point range.
Jolly joins him above 40 percent at 40.5.
SMU’s offense stands in stark contrast to that of Memphis, which ranks No. 174 in adjusted efficiency. However, the Tigers are No. 15 in adjusted defensive efficiency, despite Wednesday’s debacle.
Achiuwa and Jeffries are averaging 1.9 and 1.2 blocked shots per game, respectively, while Alex Lomax, Boogie Ellis and Damion Baugh each average more than one steal per game.
Defense has been central to Memphis’ success, but offensive lulls are the recurring theme in its four losses. The Tigers endured long stretches without points in a Jan. 4 defeat to Georgia, and a Jan. 9 loss at Wichita State.
Turnovers vex Memphis. Ball control will be key against an SMU defense that has not forced many — with turnovers on 17.9 percent of possessions, the Mustangs rank No. 252 in the nation. But SMU has defended well on the interior, holding opponents to 45 percent shooting from inside the 3-point arc.
–Field Level Media