The Layup Line: Memphis, Again

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Sure would be nice to end the regular season with 2 victories. Will senior night in Cincinnati help the Bearcats end their 2 game slide?

Had you told me before the season the Bearcats would split wins with Louisville, Connecticut and Memphis, I probably would have signed up for that.

If the Bearcats end up splitting wins with Louisville, Connecticut and Memphis, I'm going to be disappointed.

Funny how expectations change throughout the course of a season?

  • Game: Thursday, March 6, 2014; 7:00pm EST
  • Location: Shoemaker Center/Fifth Third Arena; Cincinnati, OH
  • TV/Radio: ESPN (Jay Bilas, dawg); 700 WLW

It's senior night in Clifton as four five seniors play their last home game for the Bearcats. We're doing individual send-off articles here on DTD, so I won't bore you by talking about each senior - although maybe we're not giving Derek Cox his due.

Anyway, Josh Pastner and the Memphis Tigers (22-7) head north to Cincinnati after taking down Louisville this past weekend. Have to figure the Tiger squad that lost to Cincinnati by 16 earlier this year is not the same Tiger squad that slayed the Cardinals 5 days ago.

The Tigers have four players averaging double digit points in conference play, and they're still led by Michael's dad, Joe Jackson. The quick and shifty guard is averaging 14 points a game and is 3rd in the AAC in assist/turnover ratio.

But, let's be honest, you're not worried about Memphis' offense given the 'Cats stellar D.

You're worried about whether someone not named Sean Kilpatrick can step up and help the Bearcats beat Memphis, and I think this is the night you'll be impressed.

Arguably, the most emotional guys on the team are Justin Jackson and Titus Rubles; they feed off emotion and energy, and senior night's sure to have plenty of that. Just have to hope you-know-who can keep himself in the game. Which leads me to this...

What the 'Cats have to do to win:

  • Keep JJ out of foul trouble. There are times where I think he gets the raw-end of a foul call, but that doesn't excuse the fact that it seems like he's regressed a bit. If he goes for 10 & 6, the 'Cats will win.
  • Protect the ball. Memphis is second in the AAC in steals. Let's just pretend whatever happened to the Bearcats this past weekend was a one time thing. Less than 12 turnovers is a good thing on Thursday.
  • Find the life-preserver. Even with their offensive issues the past two games, it's not like the 'Cats were blown out. If one - just one - Bearcat could step up and take some focus off of JJ and SK, it'll be a fun ride over the next month.
My prediction: While it's not saying much, this group of seniors has helped contribute to the best four-year stretch of Mick Cronin's career at Cincinnati. I'm betting the head coach wipes a tear away as either Jackson or Kilpatrick walk out of the Fifth Third tunnel one last time. I'm heading down right after work tomorrow; can't wait to stand up and cheer for these guys. Bearcats win: 68-62
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