University of Memphis basketball team (20-9, 9-7 American Athletic Conference) took care of business on the road against the Tulane Green Wave (12-17, 4-13 AAC) on Saturday night. The Tigers still have some slim hopes of the NCAA tournament bid left, but it is definitely small.
“All it took was some execution,” Hardaway said. “A couple of stops and some free throws and we win the game.”
Things right now for Memphis have been on a real low but winning a conference road game can change a dynamic of a season, especially here late with a conference tournament bye in the line.
Here are three things that were crucial for the victory against the Green Wave.
Such a (Precious) Night
Memphis freshman forward, Precious Achiuwa, had a huge career night against Tulane. He finished the game with 22 points and 22 rebounds.
“At this point (style points) don’t really matter as long as we win man," Achiuwa said.
Achiuwa was crashing the glass hard all night. The next player on the team with high rebounds was Malcolm Dandridge and Tyler Harris with six apiece. Yes, 5-foot 7 seven inches tall Harris got boards.
Achiuwa has been an absolute monster all season long, and he has no intentions of slowing down. Against the Green Wave, he recorded his 16th double-double and could close out the season with 18 for the regular season in the next two games.
“Last year Jeremiah (Martin) averaging 30 points per game in February was amazing,” Hardaway said. “This is on that level. (Achiuwa’s) type of game.”
One flaw he had tonight was the free-throw line. During the final moments of regulation, he missed four free-throws in a row. He finished the game at 4-for-9 at the line for 44 percent.
Field-Goal and Free-Throw Shooting
Besides Achiuwa, Memphis had an excellent night from the charity strike. If you take out Achiuwa’s free throws, the Tigers were 16-of-18 from the line.
In the overtime period, Memphis’ freshman guard, Lester Quinones kept knocking down his free-throws to keep Memphis ahead by more than four points.
Memphis on the season have been inconsistent at the line, but in their last three games the Tigers have made over 70 percent of their free-throws.
It is crucial to convert at the charity strike because it becomes a huge part of the score late in games. So many times, the Tigers would be down by less than three points, and they missed eight or nine free-throws in the game.
Field-goal shooting was better in Saturday’s game than it has in the past two. The Tigers shot over 40 percent in the game against the Green Wave while in their previous two they shot under that mark. Could this be a good sign heading into the huge home game against Wichita State on Thursday night? Time will tell.
Memphis on Saturday night absolutely dominated the boards all night long. As a team they finished with 55 rebounds which was a season-high. The last time the Tigers reached 50 was the game against Alcorn State, which was at the beginning of the season.
The Tigers were successful nine times out of 10 when they dominated on the boards like they did. Besides the superstar on the team in Achiuwa, Harris and Boogie Ellis got after the rebounds by combining for 11 boards.
Memphis will look to continue Saturday night’s performance going into the pivotal game against the Wichita State.
Memphis still has some slim chance at an NCAA tournament bid, but they have two mountains to climb to close out the season. The Tigers' focus is on the next game, but it is also on the fourth seed in the conference standings.
The Tigers have a pivotal game against the Shockers on Thursday, because if they can beat them and Houston in their last game, Memphis will be that fourth seed and have a first-round bye in the conference tournament.
Memphis has to find a way to limit those turnovers. They are heading back home where they only committed eight against Houston. Can they find that Memphis team against a very discipline Wichita State team? Only time will tell, but Thursday night will be an epic game with an epic atmosphere.