Friday night at the FedEx Forum will see a highly anticipated matchup between the visiting Western Kentucky Hilltoppers and the hometown Memphis Tigers. Memphis comes into the matchup with Western Kentucky ranked 11th in the country and looking to avenge last season’s Crossover Classic loss to the Hilltoppers.
For Western Kentucky, Friday night’s matchup with the Memphis Tigers is a massive opportunity for the Hilltoppers to pick up an NCAA Tournament quality win over an elite Memphis Tigers program. However, it won’t be easy for Head Coach Rick Stansbury and his Hilltoppers. Not only will they have to overcome the sheer athletism and length of the Tigers, but Western Kentucky will need to channel their inner short-term memory after losing two games against Minnesota and South Carolina in the Asheville Championship over the weekend.
In those two losses last week, Western Kentucky fell behind early and failed to regain momentum. Coach Rick Stansbury talked about that during his media availability this week and urged his team that falling behind early to Memphis would spell disaster for the Hilltoppers once again.
Matchup-wise, Memphis is a terrible on-court matchup for Western Kentucky. Unlike last season, Memphis is both long and athletic. In the off-season, Memphis added Emoni Bates and Jalen Duren to go with the potent lineup of DeAndre Williams, Landers Nolley, and Tyler Harris. Last season, Memphis struggled to contain the three-point shooting from Western Kentucky.
As far as Friday night goes, if Western Kentucky has any shot at all, they got to get out in front of Memphis early, taking away from the crowd at the FedEx Forum.
For Memphis, Friday night is about fine-tuning an already almost perfect basketball team. Friday night is the last chance for the Tigers to figure out the kinks before heading to Brooklyn, New York, on Wednesday night, where the Tigers will play Virginia Tech for sure and either Xavier or Iowa State on Friday night.
Memphis and Western Kentucky will tip-off on Friday night at the FedEx Forum at 7:00 PM. If you’re unable to attend, you will be able to follow all the action on ESPN Plus.