Precious Achiuwa (02-08-2020 vs USF)

Precious Achiuwa with a strong dunk on multiple USF players. Achiuwa ended the game with six points and three rebounds after leaving the game early due to injury. 

The University of Memphis basketball team added another terrible loss to their resume on Saturday against the South Florida Bulls. They lost 75-73 and only cashed in on two of the three games during this homestand. The Tigers now drop to 17-6 on the season and 7-3 in the American Athletic Conference.

“Tough game, got to tip the hat to South Florida,” Hardaway said.

Here are three things that made a difference in the loss against the Bulls.

Harris and Lomax Connection

Memphis guards Tyler Harris and Alex Lomax had a great performance against the Bulls on Saturday. Harris and Lomax have not been major contributors in recent games.

In fact, Harris has not had a double-digit scoring outburst since the first game against the Bulls back in early January. On Saturday he scored the same amount of points as he did in the earlier meeting between the two teams, 17. 

“We just got to keep fighting and keep competing,” Harris said. “I am over that loss, and I am focused on the next game.”

Lomax, on the other hand, had a double-digit scoring game last weekend against UConn, and he did again against the Bulls. He scored 14 points and recorded two steals. His bulldog mentality is always on display especially on the defensive side of the ball.

“We got to keep fighting and keep lifting the team up because we are a family,” Lomax said. “I’m already over the loss and I am focused on the next one because it is a huge one.” 

The game against South Florida was a big boost for both Harris and Lomax. This could set them up for the two road games coming next week.

Free-Throw Struggles

One of the biggest setbacks for Memphis against the Bulls was the free-throw line. Memphis shot 13-22 for 59 percent. In the modern era of basketball, that loses games nine times out of 10.

The last time the Tigers missed 10 free throws was against the Bulls in early January. Before Saturday’s game the Tigers were shooting really well from the free-throw line. Only missing six out of 50-plus (21-27 and 21-28) in their last two games. 

Memphis has to do a better job at cashing in at the charity strike in order to win games. Those are crucial points they are leaving off the board.

“It was an ugly game overall. Free throws were, not good.” Hardaway said.

Rebounding

Memphis has had a up and down season regarding the rebound perspective. Obviously to start the season they had a 7’3 unicorn (James Wiseman) who could rebound at ease for them but that is not the case. 

“Hopefully we can get Malcolm back, but Isaiah Maurice could possibly be our only big next game,” Hardaway said. 

Precious Achiuwa has been the next man up for them after Wiseman left and, on most nights, he would be the savior on the boards. Tonight’s game was another story. 

Achiuwa and Lance Thomas left the game late and Memphis basically played with five guards after Malcolm Dandridge was a healthy scratch. 

The Tigers got outrebounded on Saturday by 12 (41-29) and got beat by nine on the offensive glass. If Achiuwa and Thomas have to miss the Cincinnati and UConn games this coming week, the Tigers will be in a world of trouble. 

Overall

Memphis this season has not been great, and it showed against the (11-12, 4-6 AAC) South Florida Bulls. This season is still not over for Coach Hardaway and the Tigers, and they still have time to right some of the wrongs before the conference tournament in March. 

The Tigers do have some tough games coming up on the docket. They play two roads games next at Cincinnati and UConn. Hopefully the likes of Achiuwa and Thomas can come back after exiting early on Saturday because they will be needed. 

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