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Baylor vs Memphis Game Preview

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A quick look at one of Baylor's marquee non-conference opponents

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

On this Thanksgiving night (11pm CT), the Baylor Bears are squaring off against the Memphis Tigers in the Las Vegas Invitational. I can think of at least three good reasons to stay up and watch this game: 1.) it will provide you with a perfect opportunity to raid the fridge for a late night leftovers snack; 2.) if you intend to be part of the Black Friday mob, you're probably not going to be sleeping much anyway; and 3.) you love Baylor. Oh, reason number four: Baylor looks to have a pretty good chance to win! Let's see why.

A brief bio on the Tigers: an 8th seed in last season's Tourney, they advanced to the round of 32, where they fell to #1 UVA, the surprise ACC regular season champion, who recently scored a lot of points. Memphis returns only four players from last year's squad, making them one of the least experienced teams in the country.They are lead by 6-7 SO Nick King, 6-6 JR Trahson Burrell, and 6-8 SO Austin Nichols. Avery Woodson, a 6-2 SO, is the team's leading three point shooter despite only attempting ten threes on the season, making four of them. Memphis has only played two games so far, losing the Wichita State 56-71 and defeating Prairie View A&M 77-49 (Baylor beat Prairie View 60-45).

The Stats

Memphis has five players making significant contributions in scoring so far, and almost all of it has come from the inside. As a team Memphis has only made 7 three-pointers on 24 attempts. A higher percentage of their points have come from the free throw line (28.6%) than the three point line (15.8%), an oddity in the modern basketball landscape. Expect to see Memphis try to get the ball inside to their forwards to either score and the rim or draw the foul. Memphis is the most talented team Baylor has faced this season. It will be exciting to see how they compete against a team with equal or greater athleticism.

The key to the game could be turnovers, particularly those coming through steals. Baylor has stolen the ball on 11.8% of opponents possessions, while Memphis has had the ball stolen on 12.4%. Memphis total turnover rate is 29.1%, which ranks 348th in the country. As Ted wonderfully broke down for us on Tuesday, Baylor's defense has been hyperactive this season playing some mutated 2-3/1-3-1 zone. I have noticed Chery and Medford in particular being pests in the middle when they duck down to the free throw line to bother the big trying to break up the of the zone. Unless Memphis decides to start shooting over our short perimeter defenders, the Bears should have plenty of opportunities to strip the ball and get out on the break.

#WeirdBasketball Fact

Check out the Memphis roster real quick.

Player Class Pos Ht Summary
Trahson Burrell JR F 6-6 10.0 Pts, 6.5 Reb, 1.0 Ast
Markel Crawford FR G 6-4 6.0 Pts, 2.0 Reb, 1.0 Ast
Calvin Godfrey SR F 6-8 3.5 Pts, 4.5 Reb, 0.5 Ast
Shaq Goodwin JR F 6-9 10.0 Pts, 6.0 Reb, 1.0 Ast
Chris Hawkins JR F 6-6 3.5 Pts, 2.5 Reb, 0.5 Ast
Kedren Johnson JR G 6-4 3.0 Pts, 1.0 Reb, 0.5 Ast
Nick King SO F-G 6-7 11.0 Pts, 7.5 Reb, 1.0 Ast
Jake McDowell SO G-F 6-5 0.0 Pts, 0.0 Reb, 1.0 Ast
Austin Nichols SO F 6-8 8.5 Pts, 2.5 Reb, 0.0 Ast
RaShawn Powell SO G 6-1 2.0 Pts, 2.0 Reb, 2.0 Ast
Avery Woodson SO G 6-2 9.0 Pts, 0.5 Reb, 1.5 Ast
Provided by Sports-Reference.com/CBB: View Original Table
Generated 11/27/2014.

You seeing what I'm seeing? We have another #WeirdBasketball roster on our hands! Neither team has a height advantage on the other, except at the guard position, where Memphis has a couple of inches on Baylor. The zone will neutralize that problem on the defensive end, but Chery and Medford could have some trouble getting has the longer arms of the Tigers defenders. Even after they scoot past the perimeter, Memphis boasts the third highest block rate in the country, despite maxing out at 6-9. Austin Nichols, 6-8, leads the team in blocks at 4.5 per game. Six of those came against Wichita State, likely to be one of the best teams in the country again this year. You don't have to have a 7-footer to have a block party.

Be sure to tune into Fox Sports 1 at 11PM to support your Baylor Bears!