Orlando, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - The Old Spice Classic continues on Friday afternoon with the semifinal round at HP Field House, as the 21st-ranked Memphis Tigers and the LSU Tigers will face off, with the winner advancing to Sunday's championship to play either Oklahoma State or Butler.
Memphis failed its first big test of the season on Nov. 19, as it fell flat against nationally-ranked Oklahoma State on the road by a 101-80 margin, but otherwise it has played well, boasting a 3-1 record. It opened up tournament play on Thanksgiving night with an easy 87-60 triumph over Siena.
LSU also pieced together a well-rounded effort in the opening round en route to a double-digit victory, as it dismissed Saint Joseph's, 82-65. Since losing its season opener at Massachusetts, 92-90, LSU has righted the ship with four consecutive wins.
The two Tigers squads have clashed five times before, with Memphis winning three of them, including a 70-61 in the Global Sports Challenge in November of 2010.
Memphis barely broke a sweat during its 27-point defeat of Siena in the opening round, as it shot a lofty 52.4 percent from the field and won the turnover battle by a two-to-one margin (20-10). Joe Jackson led all scorers with 18 points on 7-of-10 from the field, and he also logged three of the team's 12 steals. Shaq Goodwin was a force in the paint with 17 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks, Michael Dixon, Jr. netted 16 points off the bench on a perfect night from 3-point range (4-of-4), and Austin Nichols chipped in 12 points and nine boards.
Scoring points has come rather easily this season for Memphis, as it shoots just a shade under 50 percent from the field en route to 90.0 points per game, and it lands in the black in regards to its scoring (+17.8), rebounding (+7.0) and turnover (+4.8) margins. Pacing a balanced squad is Jackson with 14.5 points per game, although Nick King (13.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg) and Dixon, Jr. (13.5 ppg) are right on his heels. Goodwin (11.5 ppg, 6.8 rpg) and Nichols (11.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg) are both mainstays at forward in the starting lineup.
LSU got off to a fast start on Thursday versus Saint Joseph's, as it ran out to a 16-point lead at the half and never looked back from there. It shot a lofty 52.6 percent from the floor on the evening, which included an outstanding 10-of-22 showing from 3-point range. Andre Stringer was the catalyst in the victory with 18 points and six assists, while Jordan Mickey logged a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Jarell Martin was 4- of-5 from the field and 5-of-5 from the foul line for his 15 points, and Johnny O'Bryant III added 11 points and eight boards.
LSU's fast start to the season is backed up by its outstanding scoring (+15.8) and rebounding (+14.0) margins. Stringer is the top performer with 18.2 points per game, while O'Bryant III (16.8 ppg, 10.8 rpg) makes up the other half of a strong inside-outside scoring duo. Mickey is also a force in the paint, registering 14.2 points, 9.8 rebounds and 3.8 blocks per game. Anthony Hickey (10.2 ppg, 5.2 apg) is one of the nation's elite perimeter defenders, as he's already swiped 16 steals.