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Sports

Tracking the Tigers

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The True Blue Nation of the University of Memphis got what it came for as the Tigers' dominated the Austin Peay Governors on the way to the U of M's 150th victory since play began at the FedExForum.

Over 15,000 fans gathered last Saturday as the Tigers took on the in-state opponent Austin Peay.

Memphis started slowly, but again junior transfer Geron Johnson came off the bench and provided the spark the Tigers needed. Johnson filled up the stat sheet, finishing with 14 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, and 4 steals. More importantly, the energy that he brings to the court seems to be contagious.

Make room for Tarik Black in the outstanding-game category. So far this year, Black has been a disappointment for Memphis. Against the Governors, Black proved that he should be in the mix, recording 18 points (leading scorer for the game) and 6 rebounds (5 on offense). If he continues to play at this level, Black could soon return to the starting lineup.

With the victory, Memphis extended its winning streak to four games and stepped into a full-week break, allowing for more study time in advance of semester exams. Although, finals aren't the only big test the Tigers have this coming week.

On Saturday (Dec. 15), a rivalry with old roots is revisited as the No. 5-ranked Louisville Cardinals come to town. Head coach Josh Pastner and the Tigers will have their hands full when legendary coach Rick Pitino and his squad take the floor at 1:30 p.m.

When asked if he has any plans or strategies that Memphis will look to deploy this weekend, Pastner answered, "Simple is powerful." He continued, "I'm not trying to out coach myself."

The point Pastner is trying to make is that there isn't a secret weapon or plan; it's just about playing the best basketball for forty minutes. But with all the hype surrounding this long-time rivalry, it's hard to not look for storylines.

A "W" against Louisville would be not only be a signature win for Memphis, it would also be the first victory against a top-25 team for the Tigers with Pastner at the helm.

Over the last four games Memphis has looked like a team on a mission. The early season losses in the Bahamas left a sour taste in the Tigers' mouths. Added in with the negativity from elements of the media, Memphis is out to prove the critics wrong. If the Tigers prevail against a long-time rival and top-5 team, they could do just that.

Pastner might have put it best.

"It's more about Memphis than Louisville," he said.

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