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Memphis vs. Austin Peay Preview



DeMarcus Sharp is one of the top players in the ASUN. (Image Credit: Austin Peay Athletics)

Memphis closes out its non-conference slate inside the FedEx Forum with a matchup against Austin Peay. The game will occur on Saturday, December 30th at 6 p.m. ESPN+ will have the coverage of the contest.

What can Memphis expect out of Austin Peay?

Austin Peay Roster Preview

Corey Gipson is in his first year at the helm of Austin Peay, coming over after one year at Northwestern State. The Governors are 7-7 on the season, a record that features wins over Murray State and Ohio.

KenPom ranks Austin Peay, a team in the ASUN Conference, as the 242nd-best team in the nation. They possess the 287th-best Adjusted Offensive Efficiency and the 166th-best Adjusted Defensive Efficiency. Gipson’s Northwestern State team had a solid defense during his lone year with the Demons. In 2022-23, they led the Southland Conference in scoring defense at 72.1 PPG.

Backcourt Rotation

Austin Peay’s offensive attack is led by their backcourt duo of DeMarcus Sharp and Ja’Monta Black. The senior transfers followed their head coach Corey Gipson from Northwestern State.

The Stars

DeMarcus Sharp leads Austin Peay in scoring at 18.4 PPG. He also contributes 7.3 rebounds, 4.9 assists. 2,5 steals, and 1.1 blocks per game. The 6’3 guard leads the Governors in each of these statistics. Sharp has yet to make a three-point shot through 14 games this season. For his career, however, he is 42 of 105 from beyond the arc, so he is somewhat of a threat. Sharp is a talented offensive creator with a great handle package. He is a good finisher around the rim and a talented shot-maker in the mid-range, an area where he primarily operates offensively. Last season, he won the Southland Conference Player of the Year and was a finalist for the Lou Henson Award. This award, which Memphis player Jordan Brown won, is given to the top mid-major player in college basketball.

Ja’Monta Black, a 6’4 guard, brings a different type of game to the table than his backcourt counterpart. Black averages 12.5 points and 3.7 rebounds per game on 41.1% shooting from beyond the arc. He attempts a ridiculous 8.0 three-pointers per game and has already made 46 shots from range this season. Black is a smart offensive player who can leverage the threat of his movement shooting to create open shots for himself inside the arc off of backdoor cuts. He is not a primary ball handler, but has a good enough handle to make shots off the bounce.

The Role Players

Dez White, a true freshman, is the third-leading scorer on this Austin Peay team at 9.4 PPG. The 6’2 guard is a shifty offensive creator with a nice handle that can finish around the rim. He shoots 34.7% from beyond the arc and 92.3% from the free throw line. Senior Dezi Jones is the fourth guard in the starting rotation. The 5’10 guard transferred over from Quinnipiac this offseason and has averaged 9.2 points per game this season. Jones is a good shooter despite his numbers (30.4 3PT%) not showing it this season. He is a really good ball handler, intelligent player in ball screen situations, and a downhill attacker with a good finishing package.

Backcourt Depth

Isaac Haney and Hansel Enmanuel add serviceable backcourt depth for the Governors.

Haney is a 6’2 junior guard who averages 7.0 points and 2.5 rebounds per game on 50% shooting. He has played just two games so far this season, returning to the lineup after the regulation on the NCAA’s two-time transfer rule. Haney is a good shooter and a solid ball handler who can finish in the paint despite his smaller stature and lack of top-end athleticism. He connected on 55 of 175 three-point attempts for Northwestern State last season. He came over with his head coach, Corey Gipson, in the offseason.

Enmanuel is a name that many will know. He is a one-armed basketball player who inspired many with his dedication and persistance through the obstacles, impressing by making it to the D1 level. In 18.4 minutes, the 6’6 sophomore wing averages 2.3 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per game on 72.7% shooting. Despite having just one arm, Enmanuel is a talented player on both ends of the court. He has a long arm, which he pairs with elite athleticism to function as a defensive playmaker and strong transition finisher.

Frontcourt Rotation

Austin Peay’s frontcourt lacks serious depth. The team’s lone frontcourt starter is senior Daniel Loos, who stands at 6’6. Loos spent his first three collegiate seasons at Christian Brothers University, a Division II college in Memphis. He averages 3.0 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per game on 63.6% shooting.

Loos is the grandson of former Austin Peay head coach David Loos, who coached the Governors from 1990 to 2017. He was also a point guard for Memphis State from 1966 to 1969.

Frontcourt Depth

Senior forward Sai Witt is the only Governor forward who has played recently. Senior center Jordan Wilmore has played just one game this season against Western Kentucky on December 16th. Junior forward Jalen Ware has played eight games this season and has not played since December 5th against Midway. The same goes for sophomore Jonathan Dunn, who has played just nine games this season and hasn’t played since the Governor’s matchup against Midway.

That leaves Sai Witt as the primary frontcourt reserve on the scouting report. Witt has been solid this season, averaging 7.6 points and 4.2 rebounds per game in 17.4 minutes per contest. He has also made four starts on the year. The 6’8 forward spent his last three collegiate seasons at Lincoln University of Missouri, a Division II program. Witt shoots 40% from the floor.


Austin Peay has the backcourt talent to make this game interesting. However, they lack the size in the frontcourt to make it truly competitive. The Governors’ tallest player in their starting rotation is 6’6, the same size as Memphis’ starting shooting guard. DeMarcus Sharp is a really talented player, though, and Ja’Monta Black is lethal from the outside. If the Tigers fail to slow that duo down, they have the ability to keep up with Memphis’ potent offense.

The Governors will try to slow the game down as well. They have a solid defense and rank 351st in the nation in possessions per game, a good indicator of their slow pace. If the Tigers’ game against Virginia is any indication, however, Memphis should not have much trouble.

Expect Memphis’ pressure defense and overwhelming size to close out the non-conference slate with yet another victory. Despite Memphis dealing with some health and injury issues, I don’t expect the Tigers to have too much trouble in this one.

Final Score: Memphis 79, Austin Peay 58.