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UAB Hands Memphis Its Third Consecutive Loss

Nothing encapsulated Memphis’ 97-88 loss in Birmingham to UAB better than the sequence with 6:23 to go in the second half.

After digging themselves a massive hole characterized by many of the flaws that have ailed this team during their now three game losing streak, Jahvon Quinerly hit a layup to cut the UAB lead to 84-73. Then, the Tigers immediately gave up a breakaway dunk off the inbound as Christian Coleman streaked down the court for the slam, stretching the lead to 13 and putting the game out of reach due to an all too common defensive lapse.

Once again, the defensive performance is the primary reason for the unfavorable result, as Memphis let UAB score their most points yet this season, and that is with UAB not making a single field goal for the final 5:09 of the game.

The stretch that separated UAB from Memphis in the second half, after a nip and tuck first half, involved the Blazers scoring 12 points in less than two minutes, from 16:04 to 14:22 left in the second half to extend their lead to ten. Simply put, these stats alone display the brutal defensive effort from the Tigers.

UAB shot 45% from 3 and 51% from the field, and even when Memphis could stop the Blazers’ first shot, UAB had an offensive rebounding rate of 47%, grabbing 16 total for the game.

The lone bright spot defensively for the Tigers was forcing 21 UAB turnovers. However, if they did not create a turnover, stops were hard to come by. The Tigers struggled in particular to neutralize UAB’s two-headed monster of guard Eric Gaines, who scored 20 points, and Yaxel Lendeborg, who put up 23 points and 16 rebounds.

As previously mentioned, the early season rebounding problems of this team are again rearing their ugly head, as seen with Lendeborg’s stat line.

Another issue that consistently plagues this team’s defense is the inability to manage speedy, shifty lead guards, such as Eric Gaines, or in previous games this season, names like Jackson St’s Chase Adams, Ole Miss’ Jaylen Murray, and Tulsa’s PJ Haggerty. The dribble penetration of these guards continues to not be contained, leading to easy shots for them, or an over-helping defense that gives up entirely too many wide open 3’s.

Offensively, the Tigers were lead in scoring by David Jones, who scored 24 points, and Malcolm Dandridge’s career high of 19 points. Offense was not the issue in this game, as they shot 48% from the field, 43% from 3, and put up 88 points, a number that should be enough to win any game. However, turnovers were the one glaring problem offensively, as has been the case for most of the Penny Hardaway era, with the Tigers having 22 in the game.

Despite attempts at a frantic comeback, the Tigers were down double digits for almost all of the second half, turning in their most discouraging performance of the season, on the heels of two straight losses.

“That’s exactly what I am trying to figure out right now: where do we go from here?” Malcolm Dandridge said to the media after the game, which is the mood of all Tigers fans at this moment.

What was just two weeks ago a top 10 team nationally and a consensus projected top 4 seed in the NCAA tournament, is now a disjointed team, squarely on the bubble, with their season at the brink. Where do we go from here?

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