WKU vs Memphis: High-scoring Tigers to test WKU’s new-look roster

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Marshall C. Canupp

WKU senior forward Jairus Hamilton dunks the basketball with 42.5 seconds left in their game against the Alabama State University Hornets in Diddle Arena on Nov. 9, 2021.

Kaden Gaylord-Day, Men's basketball reporter

WKU basketball head coach Rick Stansbury, sophomore guard Dayvion McKnight and graduate student Camron Justice met with the media on Wednesday afternoon ahead of WKU’s matchup against No. 11 Memphis on Friday.

“It doesn’t get any easier for us. We’re heading to Memphis now. Those who follow Memphis know that Memphis is one of the better teams in the country,” Stansbury said. “Memphis is really talented, and can score the basketball in a lot of different ways. It’ll be a big challenge for us but at the same time a great opportunity.” 

It will be WKU’s first true road game of the year after competing in a neutral site at the Asheville Championship this past weekend.

Stansbury acknowledged that the Tigers are a great team with multiple weapons at their disposal and are better than he expected at this point in the season. 

These two teams met last year in the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic, a meeting that ended in a 75-69 WKU win. But these two programs are a lot different now. 

“I think the biggest thing about this time this year versus last year is they’re so much better offensively,” Stansbury said. 

The Tigers are averaging 90 points a game, shooting 45% from behind the arc and winning with a scoring margin of +26. Emoni Bates leads the team with 16 points per game followed by Jalen Duren with 12.7. 

Both teams struggle in a similar area, turnovers. The Tigers are averaging 20 turnovers a game while WKU averages 15. 

“I feel like our turnovers are self-inflicted,” McKnight said. “I feel like if we just take care of the ball we’ll be in a better position.” 

The Hilltoppers had 17 steals in their game against South Carolina, which was the most in a game since recording 17 against North Texas in 2001. 

The Hilltoppers went 0-2 last year against ranked opponents, losing to West Virginia and Houston, but was the only team to beat the Alabama Crimson Tide on their home floor. 

WKU will head four hours south across the border to take on the 11th-ranked Memphis Tigers. Game time is set for Friday evening at 7 p.m. CT. The game will be streamed on ESPN+. 

Men’s basketball reporter Kaden Gaylord-Day can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @_KLG3.