Wichita St. Shockers vs. Memphis Tigers Pick & Prediction JANUARY 14th 2024

No. 13 Memphis has had three close calls in American Athletic Conference play but came out unscathed while winning by a total of 12 points.

Now the Tigers will look to win by a more comfortable margin while attempting to extend their winning streak to 10 games when they visit Wichita State on Sunday.

Memphis (14-2, 3-0 AAC) has thrived against the Shockers since Penny Hardaway became coach, winning the last six meetings and eight of the past nine between the teams.

Also, the Shockers (8-7, 0-2) are struggling, with four straight setbacks and six defeats in their past seven games.

But one player not about to take Wichita State lightly is Memphis forward Jaykwon Walton, who led the Shockers in scoring last season with 13.9 points per game. He transferred to Memphis in July.

“We gotta be motivated to play in these games knowing that we’re being hunted now,” Walton said. “If we have a slow start in Wichita and we let their crowd get involved, it’s gonna be tough.

“They feed off the energy of the crowd. … We can’t start like that against them or it’ll be rough.”

Walton is averaging 9.0 points and shooting just 27 percent from 3-point range for the Tigers.

David Jones leads Memphis in scoring (21.0 ppg), rebounds (6.9 per game) and 3-point baskets (34). He has posted nine outings of 20 or more points this season.

Jahvon Quinerly is second in scoring (13.6 ppg) and treys (27) and averages a team-high 4.4 assists.

Jones and Quinerly both stood out in Wednesday’s 107-101 overtime home win over UTSA. Jones had 26 points and a season-best 11 rebounds and Quinerly scored a season-high 25 points.

The tight contest followed three-point victories against Tulsa and SMU.

Hardaway is perplexed about the recent performances from a club that has racked up four top-25 wins this season.

“Everyone has to guard their yard, and we’re not doing that,” Hardaway said after his squad gave up more than 80 points for the first time this season. “We’re not guarding the ball well at all.

“That’s just not a Memphis team, man. We don’t play like that, so I’m telling these guys, ‘We have to get better.'”

Wichita State certainly is hopeful that things will get better fast after the recent funk that includes last Sunday’s 68-61 loss at Temple. The Shockers were off all week following that setback.

“It’s great to get a week of having individual meetings to be able to go through film and implement new stuff,” Wichita State coach Paul Mills said. “From an implementation, from a meeting and from the mental health portion, this week comes at a really good time for us.”

The Shockers are struggling offensively and have scored fewer than 70 points in six consecutive games. They are shooting just 30.6 percent from 3-point range and opponents have a plus-28 edge in the steals column.

Colby Rogers leads Wichita State in scoring (15.9 ppg) and 3-point baskets (40). He has four 20-point efforts this season but is averaging just 12.0 points on 32.1 percent shooting (18 of 56) during the four-game slide.

Kenny Pohto had 14 points as Wichita State’s lone double-digit scorer against Temple. He is third on the squad with an 11.3 scoring average. Xavier Bell (13.1 ppg) is second.

The Shockers have lost five straight games against ranked foes and are just 3-11 against such clubs in their seven seasons as a member of the AAC. Their lone game against a ranked team this season was an 86-67 loss to then-No. 2 Kansas on Dec. 30.

–Field Level Media

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