Weird night at FedExForum on Thursday. For more than a half, it felt like the Tigers could win – but Josh Pastner’s squad eventually found themselves playing without the majority of their back court. Tough to beat the best team in the league with an undersized, walk-on PG who came into the year with zero D1 experience.
Let’s hear from our friends:
- Memphis had its chances and fought hard, but it felt like this game was over when Kedren Johnson inexplicably fouled out with 19 minutes to go. With Markel Crawford (jaw) and Pookie Powell (sickness) already sidelined, Memphis just didn’t have the weapons to go the distance with a team like SMU.
- Memphis fans were all over the refs – who didn’t have a great night but certainly weren’t the issue. The issue? SMU is just so incredibly well coached. They play hard, and tough – without fouling. And they don’t beat themselves.
- It’s fun to watch HOF coach Larry Brown on the sideline. He doesn’t overreact to runs – either way. He’s usually just sitting down and watching – not over coaching. It’s obvious from his interviews and watching his team that he does his coaching in practice. When the games roll around – his players know how to execute.
- SMU also has a floor general in Nic Moore. A floor general is clearly what Memphis lacks. I don’t want to pile on Kedren Johnson, because he’s had a really nice few weeks for Memphis, but as a floor leader you have to find a way not to foul out with 19m to go. That’s unforgivable.
- SMU is the best team in the AAC. We’ll all get another look at Tulsa on Saturday – but in terms of toughness, leadership, guard play, and coaching – SMU is clearly the team to beat going into the AAC tournament in Hartford the week after next.
- The good news is Memphis hung around for a while – even playing drastically short handed. And Shaq Goodwin continued his resurgent play – finishing with 17 & 7.
- The upshot? Memphis could be very competitive in the AAC tournament. I don’t see them beating this SMU team, but they should be able to run with pretty much anyone else in the league.
- Big games upcoming- the Tigers have to face Tulsa on Saturday and then go on the road @ UConn and @ Cincy. Winning 2 of 3 would do wonders for Memphis’ confidence heading into the tournament. Losing 2 of 3 or all 3 would obviously do the opposite.
- Austin Nichols had an off shooting night – going 2/11 from the field in 30 minutes. He did manage to contribute 8 rebounds and 5 blocks.
- The foul situation with Memphis’ guards was unreal. Toward the end of the first half Demarnier Cunningham and Johnson each had 3. At that point Johnson has to realize the situation and avoid that 4th – much less a silly 5th on a technical.
- To close it out, let’s go to Twitter for the last 2 Negative Nellie entrants. First, former Tiger basketball beat writer Dan Wolken (I think I’m going to write a separate post on this Tweet soon, because I actually disagree with Dan on this):
Half the players on the Memphis roster don’t belong at Memphis if Memphis is the program it purports to be. Bottom line.
— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) February 27, 2015
- And finally, (also pulled off Twitter):