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Tigers drop to 5-2 on the season after loss to Bulldogs

The Memphis Tigers failed to get a much-needed rebound win as they fell to the Georgia Bulldogs (2-5) 79-82 Wednesday night in Athens, making their record now 5-2. 

A lot of eyes were on the Memphis offense tonight after an embarrassing performance last Friday night against Iowa State. Through their first six games of the season, Memphis had been averaging over 20 turnovers a game, a statistic that Lester Quinones called “insane."

Head coach Penny Hardaway said that the team lost the privilege of calling their own plays and running their own offense with the turnovers, and he was going back to running the “lion” offense. While the offense seemed to help the Tigers with their turnover woes, only committing only 11 on the night, the Tigers could not make many wide open looks from the three point line or near the rim. 

At times in the first half, it looked like the offense was working, providing open looks. While they trailed for most of the first twenty,, Memphis made key stops and forced turnovers to claw their way to a two point halftime lead. 

The second half was basically a flip of the first half, with Memphis maintaining a lead throughout the period but never making that run to fully separate themselves from the Bulldogs and put the game out of reach. The reason for that was the disparage in free throw shooting between the two teams. Georgia ended the night 27-35 from the line, while Memphis was just 14-17. Points from the charity stripe ended up being the big difference along with the defense not being able to make as many stops or force as many turnovers as they have during the first part of this season. 

There were many standout performances for the Bulldogs during the night who were without the starting senior point guard and second leading scorer Aaron Cook. The guard duo of Kariq Oquendo and Christian Wright combined for 41 points on the night, while Jabri Abdur-Rahim added 15 points off the bench including the three with less than two minutes left that gave Georgia the lead for the final time in the game. 

As for Memphis, all five starters hit double digits, led by 17 points from Landers Nolley on 5-16 shooting, and Lester Quinones with 12 points on 3-7 shooting, including nine from the three point line. The much-maligned senior point guard Alex Lomax was maybe the most key contributor for the Tigers tonight, finishing with14 points on 5-6 shooting from the field. He also added three steals on the night, while only committing one turnover. 

What’s next for Memphis? Well, a lot more questions need to be answered for fans and the rest of college basketball. This is slowly becoming make or break time for Penny as a head coach. This was supposed to be the year that Penny silenced all the doubters, but it seems as though he is beginning to have more doubters than ever. More and more people are starting to think that Penny is unable to get a team to play to their full potential. Their next three games against Ole Miss, Murray State and Alabama will all be tough tests that will provide an opportunity to correct course.

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