Memphis appeared sloppy and uninterested during much of Thursday's NCAA tournament first round win over Cal State Northridge. But don't let the scare the Tigers suffered through fool you. This team is extremely athletic and has size in abundance.
The Tigers finished the regular season at 31-3 with a 16-0 record in Conference USA play. In fact, Memphis has won 61 consecutive conference games, a feat that's hard to accomplish no matter what league a team plays in.
Memphis is led by freshman guard Tyreke Evans (6-foot-6, 219 lbs.), who was moved to the point midseason. Since the position switch, the Tigers are undefeated, and Evans's importance to the team was evident Thursday. When he was forced to the bench with early foul trouble, Memphis struggled mightily against Cal State Northridge. Evans is averaging 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game. He shoots 45.0 percent from the field and 28.6 percent from three-point range. Evans leads the team in steals (70).
Flanking Evans are fellow guards Antonio Anderson (6-foot-6, 214 lbs.) and Doneal Mack (6-foot-5, 181 lbs.). Anderson was the team's point guard before Evans took over. He averages 10.2 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game. He also has tallied 49 steals.
Mack is one of the team's top long-range shooters. He is hitting 33.0 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc. Mack averages 8.9 points and 2.1 rebounds per game. Unlike Evans and Anderson, Mack does not drive to the basket much and, therefore, does not make many trips to the free throw line.
Inside, the Tigers offer a pair of lanky, experienced forwards. Robert Dozier (6-foot-9, 220 lbs.) might pose the biggest matchup problem for the Terps. He leads the team in blocks (59), is second in rebounding (7.2 per game) and is third in steals (42). He also averages 12.8 points per game and shoots 51.0 percent from the field.
Shawn Taggert (6-foot-10, 238 lbs.) also will serve as a sizable obstacle for the Terps in the paint. He averages 10.4 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. He has tallied 50 blocks and 21 steals. Taggert shoots 50.2 percent from the field.
Off the bench, Memphis offers a blend of talent, though it is not always consistently productive. Roburt Sallie (6-foot-5, 186 lbs.) exploded for 35 points on 10 of 15 shooting from three-point range on Thursday. He averages 4.5 points per game and is shooting 41.9 percent from beyond the arc on the season.
Pierre Henderson-Niles (6-foot-8, 300 lbs.) and Wesley Witherspoon (6-foot-8, 200 lbs.) provide the Tigers with some additional size off the bench. Witherspoon averages 4.4 points per game, while Henderson-Niles chips in 3.6 rebounds per game.
As a team, Memphis shoots 44.3 percent from the field and 32.0 percent from three-point range. The Tigers' strength, though, is in their defense. Memphis ranks in the top 10 in the nation in scoring defense (56.9 ppg allowed), three-point field goal percentage defense (29.3 percent allowed) and blocked shots (6.2 bpg). The Tigers lead the nation in field goal percentage defense (36.2 percent allowed).
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