Memphis’ four-guard attack has led the way for much of the 2013-14 season, and in their 71-66 win over East Region No. 9 seed George Washington two of those four were key factors in the outcome.
Joe Jackson accounted for 15 points, six assists and five rebounds, but it was Michael Dixon Jr.’s play down the stretch that helped Memphis withstand multiple George Washington rallies. Dixon, a fifth-year transfer from Missouri, scored 19 points off the bench with 11 of those coming in the final 9:41 of the game.
As a team Memphis struggled from beyond the arc, making just six of their twenty-two attempts with Chris Crawford shooting 3-for-10 on the night. Those misses from the perimeter factored into George Washington’s ability to cut eight and ten-point margins down to four at multiple points in the second half.
But whenever the Colonials looked to get even closer, Memphis would find a way to get a stop and then convert on the other end. That proved to be the difference between going home after one game and Josh Pastner earning the second NCAA tournament of his tenure at Memphis.
The Tigers will more than likely face No. 1 seed Virginia in the Round of 32 (unless Coastal Carolina makes history), and their ability to get the ball inside will be key. At times the guards can resort to hoisting challenged jumpers, and that’s when the Tigers are at their worst offensively. However if the Tigers look to get the ball inside through the use of dribble penetration and post feeds to their big men, they become a tougher team to defend.
That’s what Memphis will need to do on Sunday, and while it’s difficult to do so against Virginia’s pack line defense the Tigers are talented enough to do so with Jackson and Dixon leading the way.