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VOL. 128 | NO. 226 | Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tigers Ready for Season’s First Test

DON WADE | Special to The Daily News

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When the No. 11 University of Memphis Tigers had finished crushing Austin Peay in their season-opener, attention immediately turned to their Tuesday, Nov. 19, game in Stillwater against No. 7 Oklahoma State.

After a convincing win against Austin Peay last week, senior guard Geron Johnson and the University of Memphis Tigers are stepping up in a big way when they face Oklahoma State on the road.

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

“I’m ready to see Tuesday,” said Tigers guard Geron Johnson. “Let’s make it happen.”

Meantime, at OSU, the Cowboys were putting a boot to their third straight inferior opponent of the season and turning toward this game.

“This is what we’ve been waiting for,” guard Markel Brown told The Oklahoman. “We finally have a big game. Hopefully we can get a packed house. It’s here now. Should be a fun one.”

Tigers guard Michael Dixon, a transfer from Missouri, has experience playing at Gallagher-Iba Arena. He calls it a “hostile environment” that made it among the toughest places to play in the Big 12.

“It’s insane,” Dixon said. “It’s not Kansas, but it’s right up there with Kansas. Especially when a good team comes in. They’re gonna be revved up for us.”

Sophomore guard Marcus Smart is generally considered one of the country’s top players. He averaged 15.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists in earning Big 12 Player of the Year honors as a freshman. But through three games this year, Smart’s scoring (13.7 points) is behind shooter Phil Forte (21 points per game and a major 3-point threat) and Brown (15.3 points).

Memphis coach Josh Pastner deployed the press against Austin Peay and while it created some turnovers and fast-break baskets, it was far from perfect.

“We want to get the game going up and down, but we need to cut down some of the easy baskets,” said Tigers forward Austin Nichols.

Forte said last week that the Cowboys took notice of this game when the schedule first came out.

“Everyone sees,” he said.

And everyone will see. The 7 p.m. game is on ESPN.

“Just need to make a statement for the country to know we’re playing hard,” Johnson said. “So make sure you bring it. Our test is Tuesday.”

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