Memphis vs. Florida: Four Key Storylines at The Jimmy V Classic

Posted by Mike Lemaire on December 17th, 2013

Here’s a look ahead to the Jimmy V Classic game between two Top 25 teams in Memphis and Florida.

Shaq Goodwin will have his hands full with Patric Young tonight.

Shaq Goodwin will have his hands full with Patric Young tonight.

  1. The Tigers have one very obvious Casey Prather-sized problem heading into tonight’s match-up. Prather has been an offensive revelation this season and is the Gators’ leading scorer. He will be the Gators’ primary small forward tonight and that spells trouble for Memphis. The senior is too big, strong, and fast for any of Memphis’ three guards to defend, but his athleticism and length make him a problem defensively for the Tigers’ smaller guards. Prather still isn’t much of a shooter, so the Tigers would be wise to cut off his penetration at all costs. Memphis matches up with Florida nicely at every other position on the floor, so finding a way to exploit or at least not get exploited in that specific match-up will be important to the team’s success.
  2. Get excited to watch two of college basketball’s better big men battle it out in this game because Patric Young and Shaq Goodwin are going to be seeing a lot of each other this evening. Goodwin has emerged as the Tigers’ best and most consistent player, and Young knows a thing or two about consistency as well. The two players are not entirely alike, however, as Goodwin has been the much more refined offensive player this season while Young has the edge in strength (as he always does) and athleticism. Young’s shooting percentages are well below his career marks and the Gators have better offensive options to look to first, but Goodwin hasn’t faced an opponent with Young’s combination of size and athleticism (apologies to LSU’s Johnny O’Bryant) so he will need to be more creative and active on the glass if he wants to get the better of this match-up.
  3. Contrasting offensive styles are also at play here as Josh Pastner‘s club likes to push the pace and ranks 32nd nationally in adjusted tempo this season. The Gators are pretty much the exact opposite as they rank 321st nationally, preferring to use their depth and athleticism to overwhelm the opposition in the half-court. Florida is one of the best defensive teams in the country but their transition defense has been inconsistent and they tend to allow opponents to shoot a fair amount of three-pointers off the fast break. It will therefore be important for guys like Geron Johnson and Michael Dixon to get hot from downtown early. On the other hand, Memphis has the personnel and the ability to be an excellent defensive team in the half-court, so it will be important for the Tigers to try to establish tempo early and play physical defense.
  4. It’s time for some of the Tigers’ freshmen other than Austin Nichols to step up. Nick KingKuran Iverson and Dominic Woodson have all contributed at various points of the season, but Pastner was unwilling to play them for even 10 minutes in competitive games against Oklahoma State and Arkansas State. The Gators were supposed to be one of the country’s deepest teams, but off-court issues have limited them to a seven-man rotation just like Memphis. Pastner isn’t silly enough to think that just playing eight or nine players will eventually wear down a team like Florida, but if King or Iverson can step up and provide not just minutes but points, rebounds or defense, then the Tigers’ depth will become an advantage. King is probably the best bet considering he is the closest to matching Prather’s size and athleticism, and has been the most efficient freshman other than Nichols that Memphis has.
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