Game Preview: Tigers open up NCAA play with St. Mary’s

The respect that the University of Memphis was looking for from the NCAA Selection Committee was received when the Tigers were placed as a sixth seed in the tournament.  However, the Tigers will be at a slight disadvantage in only having only 36 hours to prepare for the 11-seed Saint Mary’s Gaels.

The Tigers will have to do some late night cramming to find out their game plan for the Gaels.  St. Mary’s defeated the Middle Tennessee State University Blue Raiders 67-54 in the  First Four game in Dayton, OH and will travel to play the Tigers in Auburn Hills, MI at 1:40 Central time on Thursday March 21.  The Gaels are 28-6 and three of their losses have been to Gonzaga.

Joe Jackson looks to get the Tigers their first NCAA tournament win under Coach Josh Pastner.  Photo by Justin Ford

Joe Jackson looks to get the Tigers their first NCAA tournament win under Coach Josh Pastner. Photo by Justin Ford

Memphis’ keys to a their first NCAA Tournament victory with Josh Pastner:

Joe Jackson being the leader.

Jackson has had his best season as a Tiger.  He has made other players on the team better.  Jackson does not look to be the top scorer every game.  Since the tournament in the Bahamas, Jackson has been the motor that has driven the Tigers.  Jackson has not complained when he was not in the game and gives the team what it needs at critical times.

Adonis Thomas.

Thomas has the ability to take over a game at any point.  In the game at Tennessee, he came out with a killer instinct from the opening tip.  He needs to have that commitment for the rest of the season in the opening minutes of every game.  Thomas is not dependent on relying on other players to get him the ball in certain spots.  Thomas can be effective as a long to mid-range shooter or as a cutter to the basket.

The big men have to play big.

Tarik Black and Shaq Goodwin have got to play more physical, but yet smarter.  The Tigers will be bigger than most teams the play.  However the Tigers have had a tendency to be out rebounded in most games.  Black and Goodwin can be dominating forces for the Tigers, when they are not in foul trouble. Neither player can afford to continue to commit silly avoidable fouls.

Must stop Matthew Dellavdova.

Dellavedova is the heart and soul of the Gaels.  If the Tigers are able to disrupt him, they will be able to get the team out of character.  Dellavedova is one of the best players in the country and he can score from all parts of the floor.  Dellavedova is the leading scorer in the Gaels’ history and is the second leading active assist leader in NCAA with 757.

Control tempo.

When the Tigers play at their pace, they can play with any team in the nation.  The Tigers are very explosive and can score points in quickly.  When the Tigers are clicking with Jackson, Chris Crawford and Gerron Johnson, their pressure defense will cause turnovers and quick layups or killer 3-pointers.

Vegas has St Mary’s favored over the Tigers by 1.

ON TV: Memphis vs. St. Mary’s airs at 1:45 pm on CBS

Terry Davis covers the Memphis Tigers for MemphiSport. To reach Terry, email him at terry@memphisport.com. Follow him @Terryd515.

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