Little Rock Scouting Report
After a blowout win against Alcorn State, the Tigers remain at home for a matchup against Little Rock. This is the same Little Rock that last year came into the Forum and gave the Tigers a run for their money and caused a very uncomfortable atmosphere for the fans for the majority of the game. The main difference is that last year’s Trojans were led by Rayjon Tucker – who briefly was committed to Memphis as a graduate transfer before declaring for the NBA draft – who torched the Tigers for 29 points on their home court.
This year’s version of the Trojans is led by sophomore guard Markquis Nowell. Measuring in at 5’7”, he is making his presence known on the floor this season. He has led the Trojans to a 3-1 record by averaging 21 points, 4 rebounds, and nearly 6 assists. The lion’s share of his team’s shots belong to Nowell this season, over 30% of them in fact. With his workload, Nowell was able to put up 28 points against Illinois State and 25 points against Central Arkansas (shout out to coach Norvell.) According to KenPom, Nowell owns an assist rate in the top-100 in Division 1, so he is capable of more than just scoring.
Fellow sophomore Ben Coupet is averaging 11 points and 7 rebounds per contest while a trio of juniors also play significant roles for second year coach Darrell Walker. Center Ruot Monyyong plays the big man role and is 6’10” and averages 11.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game.
Junior guard Jaizee Lottie contributes 8 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 2 assists per game.
6’8” junior Kris Bankston earns 9.7 points and 3.3 rebounds per game.
This Little Rock team certainly shies away from shot outside of the arc. The Trojans are in the bottom third in the country in both three point attempts (18) and three point percentage (27). However, they are efficient with the shots they take. Currently the Trojans are making buckets at a 47.8% clip, good for around 75th in the country.
We will see two contrasting styles of play on Wednesday night. Penny Hardaway’s Tigers prefer to play at a breakneck pace where their average possession is 13.8 seconds, which is a top 10 pace in the nation. On the flip side, Little Rock milks the clock for 19.4 seconds per possession, earning them one of the slowest tempos in the nation.
Though Memphis plays at a fast pace and is equipped with a roster that seems perfect to let it fly from deep, with guys like Tyler Harris, Boogie Ellis, and Lester Quinones, the Tigers are near the middle of the country in both three point attempts and three point percentage.
Without stretching the floor and filling it up from deep, the Tigers have one of the best percentages in the country shooting inside the arc, drilling shots at a rate of 61%. A lot of this has to do with the fact that Memphis has faced teams with smaller post players and guys like James Wiseman and Precious Achiuwa have been able to charge the rim at will. As the metaphorical and literal size of the Tigers’ opponents grows, it will be worth tracking to see if this trend continues.
A top ten player in the class of 2021, Moussa Cisse spoke with Jake Weingarten of Stockrisers and told him that he would be waiting until after the high school season before making any visits. Cisse recently transferred into the city of Memphis to Lausanne. He is a 6’9” forward and Memphis is just one of the big name schools recruiting him. Some of the other schools include Kentucky, Michigan State, North Carolina, among others.
I think we all knew there was a chance this would be the case, but it looks like the Tigers and Vols three year series could be coming to a bitter end.
There’s always two sides to each story, and the side from the west side of the state hopes that this old rivalry will continue.
With 18.5 points and 6 rebounds in two games last week, the AAC has named Tiger Lester Quinones the conference Freshman of the Week.
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