Look for my game preview tonight, in which I take at a Memphis team that is getting about as hot as those John Calipari teams did from 2005-09.
Had a great interview Friday with Josh Pastner, who is a personable as they come in the coaching biz … except for Calipari, maybe. Pastner didn’t bite much on questions about the Tigers’ move to the Big East, preferring to stay in the moment and give Conference USA its due.
“I love Conference USA,” he said. “I’m a big fan of Conference USA. I believe in Conference USA. I believe our league is as good as any league out there; the league just doesn’t get the respect it deserves nationally. There’s a lot of good coaches, good teams, good players in this league and I think it’s unfortunate it doesn’t get the national recognition it deserves.
“It’s a great basketball league, and any coach that’s coached in this league and coached in other leagues will tell you the same thing that I’m saying.”
For a second, I thought he was channeling John Calipari, circa 2007.
DeAndre Kane has scored at least 15 points in six previous games against the Tigers, including the 22-point game three weeks ago at FedExForum. That was one of his best games: 9 of 18 from floor, 2 of 6 from 3, 2 of 4 FT, 22 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists.
His 6-game line: 202 minutes (33.7 average), 35 of 92 FG (38 percent), 10 of 29 from 3, 25 of 43 FT (.581), 105 points (17.5), 25 rebounds, 18 assists, 16 turnovers.
I’m not sure what he will do Saturday night, but I know this: Barring major foul trouble, he won’t play just 33 minutes. These days, Kane gets his rest by playing the “2” guard when Tamron Manning comes in for a shift on the point.
Remember when we thought Chris Martin would give the Herd (and Kane) good minutes at the point? His line in conference play: 51 minutes, 1 of 9 FG, 1 of 7 from 3, 1 of 7 FT, 3 points, 3 assists, 6 turnovers …
… and 3 DNPs.
Memphis is 125-14 against Conference USA teams since the 2005-06 realignment. Following is the short list of games the Tigers have lost:
3/2/06 at UAB, 80-74
1/20/10 home vs. UTEP, 72-67
1/30/10 at SMU, 70-60
2/24/10 at Houston, 92-75
3/10/10 vs. Houston at Tulsa (C-USA tourney), 66-65
1/12/11 at SMU, 64-58
1/29/11 at Marshall, 85-70
2/2/11 home vs. Tulsa, 68-65 (2 straight!)
2/19/11 at Rice, 67-52
2/26/11 at UTEP, 74-47
3/2/11 at East Carolina, 68-57 (2 straight again!)
1/18/12 at Central Florida, 68-67
2/1/12 at Southern Miss, 75-72
2/18/12 home vs. UTEP, 60-58
Only Tulane has failed to down the Tigers in the current lineup, and would have to do it in the C-USA tournament, which is back in Tulsa. The Tigers have 3 C-USA road games left: Marshall, UCF (March 2) and UTEP (March 5).
From there, the former West Tennessee State Normal School will join its sixth conference when it enters the Big East. The others were Mississippi Valley (1928-33), Missouri Valley (1967-73), Metro (1975-91), Great Midwest (1991-95) and Conference USA (1996-2013).
There’s your trivia lesson … If Kane scores 30, D.D. Scarver hits five or six 3-pointers, Dennis Tinnon goes 12 pts/18 rebs and the “bigs” stay out of foul trouble, the Herd just might have a shot.
Heard a little grumbling about the game landing on the same night as Miranda Lambert in the orange building down 3rd Avenue and Smokey Robinson performing for the Marshall Artists Series at the Keith-Albee. I heard a suggest that, once upon a time, there was more “coordination” with MU basketball home games.
No, once upon a time, the Memorial Field House was the only viable concert venue in Huntington and Saturday nights like this were impossible. Today, stuff happens. … Pretty good night for the city, as I see it.
Wherever you are, follow me @dougsmock on the Tweetybird. Try not to channel Mr. Spacely if you tweet back.