University of Memphis basketball team (19-9, 8-7) lost another road game against the SMU Mustangs (19-8, 9-6) on Tuesday night. The Tigers may have lost their last chance at an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament.
"I'm angry more so than deflated," Memphis Tigers' head coach Penny Hardaway said in the post-game presser. "We let an opportunity pass us by."
Things right now for Memphis seems low and hopeless with three games left in the regular season. Here are three things that went wrong for the Tigers Tuesday at SMU.
Turnovers Are Back
After Memphis only committed eight turnovers last Saturday against Houston, the Tigers were back to a familiar phase on Tuesday.
"We just didn't come out with the same fire and desperation as we did (against Houston)," Lester Quiñones said.
The team from the 901 committed 21 turnovers against the Mustangs and crucial ones late in the game that sealed their fate for another “L” in the loss column.
Memphis sophomore guard, Alex Lomax, had the most in the game with five and freshman forward, Precious Achiuwa, was next with four. Achiuwa also had two very costly ones late in the game.
Although many Tigers fans hoped that Saturday's game against Houston was a sign of the end of the Tigers' turnover bug, it came back in their match against SMU.
The Tigers cold shooting from the game against Houston went on the trip with the team as they struggled again from the three-point line.
For the season the Tigers are shooting 34 percent from distance, but as for the last two games, they are barely hitting that mark. In the game against Houston they shot 17 percent, while the game against the Mustangs they shot 24 percent.
Tigers need their shooters to come alive here in these final three games that lead up to a huge American Athletic Conference tournament in mid-March.
Guys like Lester Quinones, Tyler Harris and Boogie Ellis need to find their stroke and fast. The three ball at SMU on Tuesday were clanking off the rim all night. Memphis needs more offense other than Achiuwa and what better way to find it than the shooter on the team getting out.
Early Foul Trouble
The game against SMU started out on the wrong foot, as Achiuwa picked up two fouls with in the first four minutes of the game. With him having to sit, the Mustangs went on a quick 8-0 run, and Memphis was not able to catch up the rest of the game. The referees in the game did have some questionable calls, but overall Memphis committed too many against themselves.
Many times, on the road this season, The Tigers have been going too fast on the break, and it has cost them turnovers and then picking up cheap fastbreak fouls. Those fouls rack up fast and then, Hardaway has guys that he counts on the most on the bench.
Other fouls that Memphis commit that are cheap are failed rebound fouls. Meaning, the Tiger who does not grab the defensive rebound usually commits a foul, and that can never happen. The Tigers have to stop committing the cheap fouls and only commit smart ones.
“We got to win out and get our act together,” Hardaway said.
Memphis' remaining chance, more than likely, at a NCAA tournament bid will have to come from a conference championship. The Tigers do have games against Wichita State (at home) and Houston (away) left that are big quadrant games, but the loss tonight is a big blow.
The Tigers next opponent is the Tulane Green Wave in New Orleans. The Tigers have some things to clean up, so look for them to try and get some things right before they come home and play the Shockers next week.
The shooters need to find their shot, Achiuwa has to be himself and as a team, they need to keep the turnovers and fouls down to a minimum.
The game against Tulane will be Saturday at 7 p.m.
Tyler Harris yelling instructions to his team before the start of a play against Houston on Feb. 22, 2020. Harris ended with just three points on 1-of-3 shooting from the arc in the 58-53 loss against SMU Tuesday night.