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Quick reaction: Memphis loses to Texas-Arlington, 68-64

<p>Coach Josh Pastner and the Tigers will hope to rebound from tonight's loss when they face off against Ohio State on Friday.&nbsp;</p>
Coach Josh Pastner and the Tigers will hope to rebound from tonight's loss when they face off against Ohio State on Friday. 

Three games into the 2015-16 season, everything, a close loss at then-No. 8 Oklahoma aside, had gone according to plan for the Memphis men’s basketball team – until tonight.

The Tigers fell to Texas-Arlington 68-64 with 11,184 in attendance at FedExForum Monday night. Here are a few quick takeaways from Memphis’ loss.

--Memphis’ offense looked every bit as bad as the final box score indicated. The Tigers started the game 1-15 from the field, and never got going offensively as they finished 16-54 (30 percent) for the game. While Memphis overcame a 10-point halftime deficit to take a 50-44 lead with 10:12 left in the game, it did so by getting to the free throw line (22-31 in the second half, 28-44 for the game).

However, the offense left too many points on the court – including 16 missed free throws – to close out a Texas-Arlington team that had beaten Ohio State in Columbus Friday night.

“We’ve cost ourselves two games with our free-throw shooting,” said Memphis coach Josh Pastner after the game. “It cost us the Oklahoma game, it cost us this game with the amount of free-throws we missed.”

Shaq Goodwin, who finished with eight points (1-9 FG, 6-9 FT) and a game-high 19 rebounds, said the slow start ultimately cost the Tigers tonight.

“We swung it back, but I first half I think is what got us,” Goodwin said. “We discussed that in the post game as a team. That’s what we’ll work on going into tomorrow once we get back to practice.”

--Memphis also committed 16 in tonight’s loss. Dedric Lawson, who finished with eight points (2-6 FG, 4-10 FT) and 10 rebounds, had a team-high six turnovers.

“The way I play is the way I play,” said Lawson, when asked about his six turnovers after the game. “I like to take chances. I see a team like Oklahoma and towards the end of the game, Shaq was open for a spilt second, and then he wasn’t. I should have held the ball a bit longer. It’s most definitely a learning experience about valuing the ball. That’s something coach Pastner preaches a lot. Going forward, I’m going to do better with that. It’s just (about) making simple plays…not making homerun plays.”

Texas-Arlington had 11 turnovers themselves, but in a game where every possession and point was precious – given both teams struggles offensively – those five extra possessions could’ve swung the game in Memphis’ favor.

--Entering tonight’s game, Memphis was ranked 346th nationally in three-point shooting, converting just 22 percent of its threes (14-63). In the loss, the Tigers shot a putrid 4-21 (19 percent). Without guard Avery Woodson (3-7), the rest of the team shot 1-14. The lone three came from Ricky Tarrant, who finished with 21 points (12-12 FT), despite shooting 4-15 from the field, with a 1.6 seconds remaining and Memphis trailing 66-61.

“We’ve spent as much time as we’ve ever spent, we’ve had a shooting board all summer long that you have to make 250 per day from three,” said Pastner about his team’s three-point struggles after the loss. “We’ve shot so much, including free throws, we’re making them in practice. But it doesn’t count in practice, we have to make them in the game and we’re just not making them in a game right now.”

Through four games, Woodson (9-21) is the only proven three-point threat on this roster (the rest of the team is 9-63). If Memphis is going to make a run at the NCAA Tournament this season, another shooting threat i.e. Ricky Tarrant or Dedric Lawson will have to emerge.

--Memphis’ defense, for the most part, played well enough to keep itself in the game, given its offensive struggles. Even if the Mavericks outscored the Tigers in the paint (38-22) and second chance points (16-4), they still only shot 33 percent for the game and 18 percent from three-point range. Still, as I mentioned above, Texas-Arlington made enough plays down the stretch and Memphis didn’t.

--Even if the loss to Texas-Arlington isn’t as bad as it would’ve been before the Mavericks had beaten Ohio State a few days ago, it won’t help a Tiger basketball program that is still trying to win back fan support following last season’s 18-14 finish. Pastner and his team will need to rebound quickly against Ohio State in Miami on Friday to show the Oklahoma performance last Tuesday wasn’t a false dawn.

Coach Josh Pastner and the Tigers will hope to rebound from tonight's loss when they face off against Ohio State on Friday. 

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