The Memphis Tigers returned to FedExForum Saturday to round out their non-conference slate against Georgia.
The Bulldogs, who entered at 9-3, rely heavily on freshman phenom Anthony Edwards, a 6'5" shooting guard who was the number two overall recruit behind James Wiseman and is widely expected to be a top-three pick in June.
Georgia's size gave Memphis problems early, using their length to force turnovers by disrupting passing lanes. Once Penny Hardaway went to his bench, the Tigers did a better job of speeding up the pace and playing more to their style.
Precious Achiuwa finished a rebound shy of a first-half double-double, Edwards struggled from the field and Boogie Ellis added 10 points, but the game was all square at 37 heading into the break.
Memphis caught fire to start the second half, but a balanced Bulldogs effort was enough to keep the visitors within striking distance. Buckets were swapped back-and-forth as the intensity reached a fever pitch down the stretch.
Despite Edwards' shooting woes, four Bulldogs scorers finished in double figures as head coach Tom Crean's squad went on to pick up a statement 65-62 win that'll greatly add to their NCAA tournament resume.
"The energy of the game was never right for us," Hardaway said. "They came on our floor. We had a couple chances to knock them out. Went up seven one time and eight the next time and we just couldn't do it. When you let a team hang around, this is what can happen."
The absence of D.J. Jeffries clearly stung for the Tigers, who failed to convert a single field goal over the last 4:35 of regulation.
"We realized that number two (Alex Lomax) likes to facilitate more than he wants to shoot the ball," Edwards said. "We made him force up bad shots."
As Memphis prepares to turn its attention to American Conference play, there is still a lot to learn from this loss. Although they were unable to make enough plays in the end, Hardaway's team knows what it must do better to avoid these type of results going forward.
"Just experience," Lomax said. "We're kinda young. Really haven't been in that situation. We have a couple times but it was just experience. Just situations we need to be in so we can learn from it and know what to do next time. Me personally, I've gotta find a way the ball to Precious and get him going towards the end of the game."
Next up for the Tigers is a trip to Wichita, Kansas to take on Gregg Marshall and the No. 24 ranked Wichita State Shockers. Tip-off in Wichita is set for Thursday at 6 p.m.