The University of Memphis basketball team (18-8, 6-6) gets a big win at home against the East Carolina Pirates (10-17, 4-10) on Wednesday night by a score of 77-73
The hometown Tigers get a victory after losing their last three games and fell to the sixth spot in the standings. Here are three keys that were bright spots in the action against the Pirates.
Rebounds. Rebounds. Rebounds.
Rebounding has been a crucial part to the Tigers season. Out of the twelve conference games this season, Memphis only won the rebounding battle half the time. Against the Pirates, they lost the battle by one, but the won the offensive glass.
The Tigers crashed the glass all night long. They the battle most of the night but surrendered their lead late in the game. Memphis ended the game with eight offensive boards to ECU’s six.
Memphis freshman forward Precious Achiuwa led the way for Memphis on the boards with 12 overall and four offensive, while Damion Baugh came second with seven.
“Kept telling the guys that the last three-four minutes of the game that it is winning time,” Achiuwa said.
In the last four games that Memphis won the rebounding battle, they went on to win the game. In conference play, Memphis has struggled to win the battle of the boards, but it was a different story against ECU even though they lost by one.
Containing Jayden Gardner
ECU star, Jayden Gardner, has been the guy for the Pirates. He has done everything from scoring all the way to defense. Gardner had his highest scoring output against Houston and Cincinnati with 29 points so far this season.
Playing against that long, yet fast defense was a different story. Memphis did a nice job on the Pirates’ star. They came in with a game plan to shut Gardner down knowing he is the only offense for ECU.
Gardner came into the game a 20 points per game scorer and left FedExForum with four shy of that mark with 16 points. Most of his points Wednesday night came during the second half, but going into halftime Gardner only had four points.
Boogie Ellis continues to shine
Memphis freshman guard, Boogie Ellis, had a great game against the Pirates. He finished the game with 17 points and three rebounds.
“Just watching a lot of film, and seeing where everything is on the floor,” Ellis said.
Ellis has recently been another threat for Penny Hardaway’s Tigers. He in the last five games has averaged 15 points per game. Ellis has quickly become the second guy on the team in terms of scoring the basketball.
"Boogie has been doing a great job of being that guy to emerge from the guard spot. It is good to see Boogie emerge and be able to knock down those tough shots," Hardaway said.
The freshman out of San Diego, California has been impressive and will look to keep up his scoring outburst against the Cougars on Saturday.
Memphis has been in a funk lately, and everyone knows it. The Tigers are already getting counted out for an automatic bid in most people’s eyes.
Wednesday’s game against ECU gave them a wake-up call and a momentum boost heading into the game against the Houston. The Cougars sit on top of the American Athletic Conference standings with a 20-6 overall record and a 10-3 conference record.
Saturday will be a big game for the Tigers as they try to make a run and get into the top-four in the standings to get a first-round bye for the conference tournament.
Memphis will look to keep running high-low plays for Achiuwa, so their star player can keep finding ways for this team to win. The next two games are going to be crucial for the Tigers.