UCLA vs. Memphis - Tourney Game Preview
By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report
UCLA faces off against Memphis in a Final Four semifinal contest in San Antonio's Alamodome on Saturday afternoon.
For the first time in NCAA men's basketball history, all four No.1 seeds earned a spot in the Final Four. North Carolina plays Kansas in the second game of the double-header on Saturday.
The Tigers (37-1) advanced to the NCAA Tournament Final Four with a victory over Texas in the South Regional final. Chris Douglas Roberts scored a game-high 25 and freshman Derrick Rose added 21 points and 9 assists as Memphis routed Texas, 85-67. The game was never close with the Tigers dominating the Longhorns on both the perimeter and interior.
Riding an eleven game winning streak into the semifinal contest, the Tigers have been playing excellent basketball in the tournament. Aside from its gaudy win over Texas, the Tigers earned wins over Texas-Arlington 87-63, Mississippi State 77-74, and Michigan State 92-74.
Memphis went 16-0 in Conference-USA action and easily won its conference tournament title.
The Tigers are one of five teams in NCAA Division I history to have 37 wins in a single season, an NCAA Division I record. Of course, if UCLA (35-3) wins out in the tournament, they would also finish with a record 37 wins.
Memphis and UCLA have played four common opponents in 2007-08. The Tigers were 4-0 versus the common foes, while the Bruins went 4-2 against the same opponents.
Memphis vs Michigan St., (N), 92-74, win
UCLA vs. Michigan St, (N), 68-63, win
Memphis vs. Texas ,(N), 85-67, win
UCLA vs. Texas (H), 63-61, loss
Memphis vs. USC, (N), 62-58, OT win
UCLA vs. USC, (H), 72-63, loss
UCLA vs. USC, (A), 56-46, win
Memphis vs. Arizona, (H), 73-63, win
UCLA vs. Arizona, (H), 82-60, win
UCLA vs. Arizona, (A), 68-66, win
UCLA brings its own 14-game win streak into the Final Four. The Bruins advanced with wins over Mississippi Valley State, Texas A&M, Western Kentucky and Xavier.
Against Xavier in the West Regional final last Saturday, four Bruins scored in double-figures with Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Kevin Love combining for 23 rebounds to help UCLA overpower a solid Musketeer team, 76-57.
Memphis has an high-octane offense that fast-breaks at will. In the halfcourt, they utilize a dribble-drive motion offense in which players try to breakdown their defender off the dribble for either a shot in the paint, a backdoor pass, or kick-out to an open three-point shooter.
In Derrick Rose, Antonio Anderson and Chris Douglas-Roberts, the Tigers have three excellent ballhandlers who can penetrate and breakdown defenses. A key to stopping Memphis is preventing dribble penetration by their guards who are proficient at creating high-percentage shot opportunities for their team.
Memphis averages 80.3 points per game on 46.9% shooting. Although not spectacular from beyond the arc, the Tigers shoot a respectable 35.1% on three-pointers. When the Tigers are hitting their outside shots in games, they are very difficult to beat.
One achilles for Memphis this season has been its free-throw shooting. For the season, they are making just 60.7% from the foul line, although against Texas on Saturday they made 30 of 36 free throws for 83%.
While most people pay attention to Memphis' impressive offensive statistics, its the team's defense and rebounding which has enabled the Tigers to advance so far in the tournament.
On the season, Memphis allows opponents just 61.6 points on a stingy 38.8% field goal shooting. The Tigers utilize primarily an aggressive man-to-man defense that pressures the ball and plays the passing lanes. The team averages 8.4 steals and forces teams into almost 16 turnovers a contest.
In the battle on the backboards, the Tigers dominate opponents with a +6.7 rebounding margin per game.
UCLA has some tough match-up problems against Memphis' over-sized backcourt.
A guaranteed top-five NBA pick later this summer, freshman Derrick Rose (6'3, 205, Fr) is a big key to the Tigers' high-scoring offense. A quick, yet muscular point-guard, Rose is averaging 14.6 points on 48.1% shooting. Although he can hit from three (34.7%), Rose's game is off dribble-penetration. His speed and strength allows him to overpower smaller defenders, including Texas' D.J Augustine last Saturday. Rose also averages 4.7 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game.
UCLA's Darren Collison will likely get the starting assignment against the bigger Rose. Collison needs to do a good job pressuring the ball while at the same time preventing Rose from getting by him and into the paint. UCLA's big men will likely rotate to help out Collison off Rose's drives to the basket but they need to be aware of Rose's ability to hit the open man underneath.
AP First-Team All-American Chris Douglas-Roberts (6'7, 200, Jr) leads the team in scoring with 17.7 points a game. The junior wing shoots 54.5% from the field and 41.6% from beyond the arc.
Excellent off the dribble, big and strong enough to create his own shot, makes Douglas-Roberts one of the nation's top players this season. Russell Westbrook will get the initial assignment against Douglas-Roberts. He needs to do a good job denying him the ball. If Douglas-Robert's size proves to be too much for the 6'3 Westbrook, then we may see Luc Richard Mbah a Moute have a turn in guarding him.
Swingman Antonio Anderson (6'6, 210, Jr) has the ability to drive and slash to the basket and has improved his three-point range. He is averaging 8.4 points and 3.5 assists per game.
Josh Shipp will get the inital call against Anderson. Shipp needs to do a good job checking him from going backdoor and closing out quickly on his three-point shot.
Veteran big man Joey Dorsey (6'9, 265, Sr) can be a dominant player inside, especially on the defensive end. He averages 7.1 points on 65% shooting - mostly baskets off the offensive glass, and a team-leading 9.6 rebounds per game while contributing almost two blocks per contest.
Dorsey has the size and physicality to give UCLA's Kevin Love a tough time in the paint, although, the Tigers big man tends to be foul prone and Love has an innate ability to get opposing players into foul trouble with an array of shot fakes and post moves underneath.
At the same time, Memphis has a stable of other good, solid frontline men who can switch off and utilize their fouls on Love in an attempt to slow him down.
Starting forward Robert Dozier (6'9, 215, Jr) is a very athletic and active big man. He averages 9.2 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. An excellent help defender and shotblocker, Dozier averages 1.8 blocks a game.
Off the bench Shawn Taggert (6'10, 230, So) and Pierre Niles (6'8, 310, So) give the Tigers additional depth along the front line.
Taggert averages 6.0 points and 4.1 rebounds in just 14.3 minutes a game. A long and athletic player, Taggert has improved his offense play over the course of the season. Niles gives the Tigers a very wide body to put in front of Kevin Love at moments during the game.
Memphis announced on Thursday that back-up senior point guard Andre Allen (5'10, 205, Jr) had been suspended for this weekend's Final Four in San Antonio for a violation of team policy.
His absence leaves just sophomores Willie Kemp (6'2, 175, So) and Doneal Mack (6'5, 175, So) in the backcourt off the bench. Both Kemp and Mack give the team excellent shooters from the perimeter with each hitting over 37% from beyond the arc.
Keys to a Bruin victory on Saturday will be winning the battle on the boards, controlling the game's tempo, and playing solid transition defense against Memphis. In addition, UCLA needs to do a good job defensively of pressuring the ballhandler on the perimeter while staying in front of him to discourage dribble-penetration into the paint.
It will be a tough game for both teams, but when there are still four No.1 seeds left in the tournament, nothing less should be expected.
NCAA Final Four Semifinal
April 5, 2008
UCLA vs. Memphis
Place: San Antonio, TX
Time: 3:00 PM PT
(photo credit: AP)
Labels: Game Previews (Tournament)