Paradise Island, Bahamas (Sports Network) - After losing their opening round games, the 19th-ranked Memphis Tigers and the Minnesota Golden Gophers will face off in the consolation round of the Battle 4 Atlantis at Imperial Arena in the Bahamas.
The winner will play either Northern Iowa or Stanford in the fifth-place game on Saturday, while the losers will face off in the seventh-place game.
Memphis played just two contests leading up to the holiday tournament, both at home. First it defeated North Florida, 81-66, then it played a much tighter battle than it expected against Samford, but it managed to pull out a 65-54 victory. The Tigers opened the tournament against VCU and the Rams handed them their first loss of the season, 78-65.
Minnesota opened the season on a four-game homestand and it came out undefeated, with wins over American University (72-36), Toledo (82-56), Tennessee State (72-43), and Richmond (72-57). The Gophers were riding high into the tournament, but it had the unfortunate duty of being matched up with fifth-ranked Duke in the opening round, and it ended up losing, 89-71.
The all-time series between Memphis and Minnesota is tied at 2-2. The home team has won each previous matchup and the two have never faced off on a neutral court.
The Gophers' hot streak came to a screeching halt against Duke, as they shot just 40 percent from the field, including 4-of-16 from three-point range, in a game in which it never led. Rodney Williams did his best to keep his team in the game, leading four players in double figures with 16 points, while also tallying seven rebounds, two blocks, and a steal. Andre Hollins put up 12 points, but he did so on just 4-of-13 from the field. The poor performance was a rarity for this Minnesota squad, as it is shooting 47 percent from the floor on the season for 73.8 ppg, while outscoring opponents by nearly 18 ppg. Williams (14.8 ppg) has scored double digits in all five games and has put together a lofty field goal percentage (.689). Austin Hollins (13.0 ppg) is another trusted scorer, while Andre Hollins (9.8 ppg) has dished out a team- high 24 assists.
Memphis has impressed from the field this season, connecting on 47 percent of its shot overall, but within that field goal percentage lies an uncharacteristic clip from three-point range (.293), resulting in a modest 70.3 ppg. The hot shooting continued for the Tigers in the opening round as they made nearly 53 percent of their field goal attempts, but they put together a poor effort at the foul line (9-of-16) and turned the ball over 22 times in the loss. Committing six of those turnovers was Adonis Thomas, but he made up for his mistakes by recording team-highs in points (19) and rebounds (seven). Thomas leads the team in scoring on the year at 14.3 ppg, and Tarik Black (11.3 ppg) and Joe Jackson (11.0 ppg) also put up double figure point totals. Memphis' ball-handling has not been ideal, as it has more turnovers (37) than assists (36).