What did you expect? A 19-point beat down by UConn? The Memphis Tigers to shoot 14-of-53 (26.4 percent) from the field? The four senior guards for Memphis to shoot 26 percent? I highly doubt it.
When Tigers head coach, Josh Pastner, said to Andy Katz at halftime, “We stunk with a capital S-T-U-N-K,” did you think the horrific performance would continue? Probably not.
I know I didn’t.
This season for Memphis has been — as most of you know — a roller coaster ride. After wins against Louisville, a loss to Houston (who actually beat SMU today), positive and negative vibes, and even player only meetings, the Tigers have shown one thing. Inconsistency.
Memphis started the game with a three by Geron Johnson, and honestly that felt like a good sign. But that was only until Memphis’s usual defense showed up, allowing UConn guard, Shabazz Napier, to convert a layup and a three to take a seven-point lead in the early going.
And after that first lead, the implosion began. Connecticut’s Nick Giffey started shooting, and really from that point the game swung in the Huskies favor.
With consecutive three’s at about the 7-minute mark, Giffey was able to extend the Huskies’ lead to 12, and later in the half another three by Giffey and one by Ryan Boatright led to UConn’s maintenance of a 41-27 lead at halftime.
At this point, you got the feeling the Tigers would come out like they had against SMU last Saturday. But that ultimately was not the case.
Through the first 10 minutes of the second half, the Tigers scored 10 points as Connecticut scored 21 to take a 62-37 lead.
At that moment, Penny Hardaway, who was seated beneath a basket at the Forum, just looked up at the scoreboard, shook his head and said, “Damn.”
The Tigers competed, but not well, and they ended up losing 72-53.
After the game, Shabazz Napier — who has carved up the Tigers all year long — was asked why he was able to have so much success at the Forum.
His response, “I don’t think it’s the building, I think it’s how Memphis plays defense.”
You can look at this game against the Huskies,and it’ll show you each and every struggle the Tigers have experienced this season. Ball movement issues, defensive problems, poor shooting were all blatantly seen as UConn just poured it on.
And although all of these negatives clashed in this game, there is a reason to believe.
The Memphis Tigers will most likely get an eighth seed and will most likely be favored against their opponent. After Pastner’s job saving win last year in the NCAA tournament, the Tigers know what it’s like and are ready to face the challenge.
“We’ll win two games next week. That’s what I’m gonna say. You can put my statement with my name on it,” said Geron Johnson post game.
And you Memphis Tigers fans better believe it.