Memphis Tigers vs. Austin Peay AP Pick & Prediction DECEMBER 30th 2023

No. 19 Memphis has built all sorts of momentum, and the Tigers don’t want to loosen their grip on the things that have helped them excel.

Next up comes a visit from Austin Peay on Saturday night in Memphis.

The Tigers (10-2) carry a five-game winning streak heading into their final tune-up before American Athletic Conference play.

“This has been very taxing, haven’t got much sleep,” Memphis coach Penny Hardaway said. “Really proud to be 10-2 after these first 12 games. I couldn’t have imagined it being any better when I first set the schedule.”

Austin Peay (7-7) closes non-league play with the trip to Memphis. The Governors are aiming to beat a Top 25 team for just the second time — the other occurred versus Illinois in the 1987 NCAA Tournament.

Memphis has been in such a grind that a week between games came an ideal time for the Tigers, who were zapped in terms of energy.

“The guys have been rolling,” Hardaway said. “There hasn’t been any rest for the weary. … We know we can’t let up.”

Memphis will be playing in its fourth straight home game after defeating ranked programs Clemson and Virginia and then rallying for last Saturday’s two-point victory against Vanderbilt. David Jones poured in 28 points versus the Commodores.

Jones, a transfer from St. John’s, has recorded six consecutive games with 20 or more points.

“A streak that is unreal,” Hardaway said of Jones’ production. “But we’re not getting enough assists.”

Hardaway graded his team with a “D” offensively, but an “A” defensively entering the Christmas break.

Austin Peay, which has won four of its past five games, has been at its best when offensive efficiency has been valued.

“You have to take care of the basketball,” coach Corey Gipson said. “If you don’t take care of the basketball and don’t value possession, you are going to shoot yourself in the foot. Our guys are … savvy, and they understand time and score.”

The Governors are 6-0 when scoring at least 70 points this season.

Austin Peay’s DeMarcus Sharp was named Atlantic Sun Conference Newcomer of the Week for the third time this season after racking up 21 points last week in a victory against Ohio. A graduate transfer, Sharp has six games of 20 or more points.

Depth has started to emerge for the Governors, and they might need plenty of that this weekend.

“Sometimes when it comes to equal distributions, people only see the offensive side of the ball,” Gipson said. “But adding that depth defensively, now we have some guys that can pick up the slack in some areas.”

Austin Peay is 1-5 in road games. The victory came by defeating Southern Illinois 70-68 on Dec. 12.

It’s a busy couple of days for Memphis athletics with the football team in a hometown bowl game Friday, so perhaps some of that buzz will continue to exist for the basketball game the next night.

–Field Level Media

Docsports, The most trusted name in sports handicapping