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Memphis Tigers

First Look: 14 Houston vs. Memphis

(AP Photo/Karen Pulfer Focht)(ASSOCIATED PRESS)

The Memphis Tigers are on the cusp of qualifying for an NCAA tournament berth for the first time since 2014. However, they are not a guaranteed lock to advance due to having a few bad losses on the resume. Since the embarrassing defeat to SMU in January, Memphis has gone 9-1 in their last ten games.

Their most recent win came on Thursday night against the South Florida Bulls. The Tigers now return to FedEx Forum for a Sunday afternoon rematch against the Houston Cougars. Memphis won the first matchup against Houston 69-59. A second victory over the Cougars, along with a successful AAC tournament, will most likely allow the Tigers entry into the field of 68.

What to Watch For

In the first matchup against Houston, Memphis started off the game with aggression and would not allow Houston to disrupt the cohesion established in the first half. Landers Nolley ll scored 20 points while his fellow teammates DeAndre Williams and Lester Quinones chipped in with 13. Freshman star Jalen Duren had one of his best games of the year when he scored 14 points and accounted for 11 rebounds. They also shot exceptionally well from the free-throw line as the team made 18 of 19 shots from the line. The win over Houston was one of the Tigers’ best performances. It was the launching point for the team to extend their winning streak to what was five at the time.

Avoid Sluggish Starts

One of the issues that Memphis cannot revert to is having a slow start against the Houston Cougars. They must come into this game well-rested and motivated to sweep the season series against the Houston Cougars. Dating back to last season, Houston has been the primary reason the Tigers were not allowed to participate in the NCAA tournament.

Memphis had two opportunities to get it done last season, but they lost both matchups due to gut-wrenching plays made by the Cougars. The Tigers must play with the same intensity that allowed them to succeed in the first game against Houston. They must control the game’s flow to where the pressure is on Houston to swing the momentum in their favor.

Put Away Houston Immediately If Given the Opportunity

Over the past two seasons, Houston has proven that they are the best team in the American Athletic Conference. However, Memphis has been the team that is the difficult matchup for Houston. The Cougars won both games last season by only two points over Memphis. That’s how evenly matched these programs are right now. This season, the Tigers have gotten the best of Houston in all phases of the game. They need to put away Houston early if they can go up by a large margin on the Cougars, similar to the first game. Even in the games that Memphis has looked their best in, they have moments when they let inferior opponents hang around and put up a fight.

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Meet Derrick Branch, the founder and chief wordsmith at Strike 7 Sports. With a sharp focus on the NFL and the NBA, Derrick's expertise in sports is matched only by his passion for sharing it with others. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communications from the prestigious University of Arizona Global. Let his insightful and engaging writing take you to the heart of the action.

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