The Memphis Tigers (9-14, 4-6, American Athletic Conference) will be facing the Cincinnati Bearcats Feb. 13 at 5:30 p.m., hoping to avenge the 80-56 defeat they took to them in January.
Memphis is also trying to return to their winning ways after dropping their last two games, most recently to the ECU Pirates 68-59. Cincinnati’s last game ended in a decisive victory against Wichita State 82-54.
This is a big game for the Tigers because they need this win to break the current tie for the sixth seed in the conference. Cincinnati ranks third in the conference and are doing their best to hold Houston back.
Memphis’ most recent loss to the ECU Pirates was a result of overaggressive plays leading to the team committing a season-high 25 fouls. These fouls resulted in the Pirates taking 30 free throws, making 25 of those shots.
In addition to excessive penalties, Memphis also committed 31 turnovers, which ECU capitalized on to score 20 points off of those mistakes and gain a lead as big as 19-points in the third quarter. ECU guard LaShonda Monk led the game with eight steals.
Memphis’ head coach Melissa McFerrin sat down with the media following the game and was noticeably upset with her team’s numerous mistakes.
“We had too many unforced turnovers,” McFerrin said. “Obviously, we know they’re in a zone defense, and we just didn’t read where our passes were. I thought we played hard and I thought we were invested, but we didn’t box out well, and I don’t think we were very mentally sharp today.”
Despite the losing effort, they did play good defense, holding ECU’s shooters to just 26 percent from the field. This was the 10th time this season the Tigers have held an opponent below 35 percent from the field and four players came away with blocks. Offensively, the Tigers got solid performances out of guard Jamirah Shutes, who led the team in scores with 16 points, and forward Alana Davis, who posted her eighth double-double of the season with 10 points and 18 rebounds.
Not much went wrong for the Bearcats this Sunday when they took on Wichita State at home. Offensively, they shot the ball well, shooting over 52 percent from the field and defensively, held the Shockers to just 39.6 percent.
Cincinnati’s head coach Michelle Clark-Heard talked to the media after the game and explained that she was proud of the effort her team gave, especially with it being eight days since their last game.
“We were looking to get the game going and speeding things up,” Clark-Heard said. “I know we hadn’t been in this situation, but I’m really proud of my girls today.”
There were five Bearcats who scored double-digit points, including two players who came off of the bench. The leading scorer was guard Antoinette Miller, who had her career-high of 23 points. Forward Iimar’I Thomas was close behind her with 19 points and nine rebounds.
This would be the perfect time for the Tigers to mount an upset over the confident Bearcats, but they’ll have a tough time making it happen. Their defense has been up to par as of late, but Cincinnati has shown that they can still make plays despite being tightly guarded.
For Memphis to compete, their offense is going to have to step up tremendously if they want a chance to keep pace with the Bearcats’ firepower. I believe if Cincinnati can pull out to a big lead early on, it’ll be difficult for Memphis to get back into the swing of things.
Score prediction: 75-57 Cincinnati