Originally written November 28, 2011 on Fox Sports Tennessee:
By ALAN FERGUSON Memphis coach Josh Pastner is hoping his team can learn from an unpleasant trip to Hawaii. A couple of winnable home games this week might help the Tigers begin doing that. They'll play the first of those Monday night against Jackson State as they look to recover from a rough week that caused them to fall 14 spots to No. 22 in the AP poll. Memphis (2-2) returns to FedExForum after dropping two of three in the Maui Invitational, most recently falling 91-88 in overtime to Georgetown in the fifth-place game Wednesday. The Tigers opened the tournament with a 73-61 loss to then-No. 15 Michigan last Monday and had to go to double overtime the next day to record their lone win, 99-97 over Tennessee. "I told our guys in the locker room, it's a long season," Pastner said. "This is November. This is why we played the four games we've played so far to this point is to get challenged, see what we've done well, see what we need to make adjustments on." Most of those adjustments appear to be needed on the defensive end, with the Tigers barely outscoring opponents by an average of 86.3-85.5. Will Barton's play, however, would seem to require little tweaking. Barton has topped 20 points and shot 52.9 percent or better in three of the four games. His 19.8-point average is 6.5 higher than the team's next-best scorer, fellow sophomore guard Joe Jackson. Barton should have a good chance to maintain his lofty scoring average during games against Jackson State (1-6) and Austin Peay (0-7). Memphis will try to use those contests to prepare for next month's trips to Miami, No. 7 Louisville and Georgetown. Jackson State has failed to beat its six Division I opponents this season and is 1-13 in this series. Memphis senior swingman Wesley Witherspoon and two of his teammates scored in double figures during the most recent matchup, an 82-53 win Nov. 13, 2009. Jackson State has been outscored by an average of 96.7-64.0 during the past three meetings, though it's coming off a pair of competitive defeats. Following a six-point loss to Tulsa on Tuesday, Jackson State allowed North Florida to pull away in the final two minutes of a 69-60 loss Friday. The team's lone senior, guard Jenirro Bush, matched a season high with 20 points in the last contest while leading scorer Kelsey Howard added 16 for his fourth straight game in double figures. Sophomore forward Willie Readus had 10 points in 14 minutes during his Jackson State debut.
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