Senior night in the FedExForum was filled with a sold-out crowd of 18,000 plus fans for the nationally televised battle.
The Memphis Tigers fell to the Number 1 ranked Houston Cougars 69-67 in heartbreaking fashion. The Tigers end the regular season with a 23-8 (13-5 AAC) record and a number two seed heading into the American Athletic Conference Tournament.
The team's leading scorer was Kendric Davis who contributed 26 points and 3 rebounds. Chandler Lawson also pitched in with 10 points.
Memphis took the number one team in the NCAA down to the wire after falling down by as much as 11 in the first half.
The comeback effort fell just short on a last-second game-winning jumper by Houston’s Jamal Shead.
The Tigers started off slow as they shot only 30% from the field and went the entire first half without a three-point make. Senior Forward DeAndre Williams was limited due to foul trouble.
The Tigers gave up 41 points in the first half and went into halftime with a 9-point deficit to keep themselves within striking distance of the Cougars.
The Tigers were able to keep themselves in the game with near-perfect free-throw shooting. Memphis shot 16/18 from the free-throw line, scoring half of their first-half points at the line.
When asked about the outcome of the game, coach Penny Hardaway referenced the first half and took the blame for how the half played out.
“This game is really on me. Had a bad game plan the first half. I put this on my back. I’m proud of the effort from them,” said Hardaway.
Coming out of halftime, the Tigers shot 40 percent from the field while shooting 55 percent from the three.
The second half started off back and forth as Memphis went on a 5-0 run with Davis pulling up from three to give the Tigers a 48-47 lead.
The FedExForum erupted as the Tigers took the lead and Houston called a timeout to regroup.
“The crowd was phenomenal they gave us the edge we just didn’t come out swinging and fighting.” said coach Hardaway.
As the game came down to the wire, Houston guard Jamal Shead took over the half with six clutch buckets down the stretch.
Memphis guard Kendric Davis outscored him with thirteen points. Davis even tied the game up 65-65 with eight seconds on the clock.
In the next possession, Memphis would lose in devastating fashion as Shead was surrounded by multiple Memphis defenders and got a shot off to win the game at the buzzer. Giving Memphis a rare home loss and an early March wake-up call.
Many critics claim that the shot should not have counted as the replays showed that Shead pushed off.
When asked about the shot, Coach Hardaway said his team must push back harder.
“I didn’t look at it. We have to be tougher if it was a push off, we have to be solid.”
After the loss, Kendric Davis would stand on the confidence that the team can compete with the best in the nation.
“We can beat anybody. We don’t fear nobody. Coach makes that loud and clear.”
Then when asked how bad you want Houston next Sunday: “Bad. It’s on my mind,” Davis said.
Davis and the Tigers will look to work for their chance at revenge as they look towards the AAC Conference Tournament. This will be a chance for extra reassurance for the Tigers to make their case as an NCAA Tournament dark horse.
Memphis will travel to Fort Worth to take on the winner of UCF vs SMU in a quarterfinal matchup this Friday at 6 P.M. CT on ESPNU.