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Memphis Defeats UAB 106-87 Behind Dominant 2nd Half

Nae'Qwan Tomlin hits a layup in Memphis' senior day victory over UAB.
Nae'Qwan Tomlin hits a layup in Memphis' senior day victory over UAB.

The Memphis Tigers defeated the UAB Blazers 106-87, thanks to an absurd second half performance. 

“I can just feel the momentum of this team,” said Coach Penny Hardaway postgame. 

Memphis entered the contest on a three-game winning streak. The Tigers blew out Charlotte, beat FAU, and blew out East Carolina, playing some of their best basketball of the season. 

UAB, on the other hand, took a home loss to the 11th place Wichita State Shockers their last time out. The loss gave the Blazers their 5th conference loss, giving Memphis an opportunity to tie them in the standings with a win. 

Before the game, Memphis honored five seniors: Nae’Qwan Tomlin, David Jones, Jayden Hardaway, Jahvon Quinerly, and Caleb Mills. Former Tiger Deandre Williams escorted Nae’Qwan Tomlin, and the school surprised David Jones by bringing his sister out as he was honored. 

David Jones hugs his sister who surprised him for his senior day.

With Malcolm Dandridge still unavailable, Memphis started Quinerly, Jones, Walton, Jourdain, and Tomlin. 

The Tigers won the tip-off, and Jahvon Quinerly found Nae’Qwan Tomlin to give Memphis the first points of the game. David Jones scored on the ensuing trip, and Eric Gaines hit a three for UAB’s first points. 

The Blazers showed a handful of different defenses, including 2-3 and 3-2 zones, slowing the Memphis offense. 

Jordan Brown and Jayden Hardaway were the first two off the bench for Memphis, and the Blazers led 13-7 at the first media timeout, thanks to a trio of three-pointers. 

The Tigers press caused some issues for UAB, but the Blazers took advantage of Jordan Brown’s lack of mobility to get some easy buckets. 

At the under-twelve-minute timeout, UAB led 20-18. Gaines, a 22.9% three-point shooter on the season, knocked down two threes in the first eight minutes. 

Like the first meeting between the two teams, UAB looked very comfortable playing Memphis’ fast paced style. 

At the under-eight, David Jones was given a technical foul, and UAB led 32-25. Once again, UAB seemed more comfortable on both ends of the floor than the Tigers. 

The Blazers scored at will for stretches of the first half, hitting the 40-point mark with six minutes remaining in the half. 

UAB forced a Memphis timeout with just over four minutes remaining in the half. UAB led 47-29. 

The Blazers beat Memphis’ pressure with ease time after time in the first half, but the Tigers continued to deploy it. 

At the half, UAB led 61-46. The Tigers closed the half on a 7-0 run, thanks to a deep Jahvon Quinerly three. The Blazers shot a ridiculous 67.6% from the field in the first half and out-assisted Memphis 14-2. 

“It was just like the game at UAB,” said Hardaway of the first half. 

Quinerly scored 20 of Memphis’ 46 points, and the lone bright spot for the Tigers was their 16-18 performance at the charity stripe. 

The Tigers opened the second half with a 6-0 run, somehow cutting a 22-point deficit to nine in two minutes and 54 seconds between the two halves. 

A UAB midrange jump shot snapped a 20-0 Tiger run. The Tigers kept up the intensity, and, after two technical fouls on Andy Kennedy, David Jones gave Memphis a 65-63 lead. 

The two teams traded scores after the Tigers took the lead, but UAB’s foul trouble was becoming a major story in the game. 

Memphis got into the bonus before the second media timeout of the half. The Tigers led 75-68 at said timeout. Perhaps most notably, Penny Hardaway kept the same lineup in for the first eight minutes of the second half. 

After Jahvon Quinerly missed a free throw, Hardaway called a timeout. With 8:34 remaining, Memphis had outscored UAB 38-9 in the second half. 

The Tigers completely flipped the script in the second half. They played as if their lives depended on it, and the refs rewarded their aggressiveness. 

“We got into an unbelievable rhythm defensively and offensively and gained more energy,” said Hardaway. 

It wasn’t until Nae’Qwan Tomlin picked up his fourth foul with less than eight minutes to go that Memphis made their first substitution of the half. 

With less than two minutes to go, Memphis pulled Jahvon Quinerly and Nicholas Jourdain. Penny pulled David Jones and Nae’Qwan Tomlin shortly after. The three-headed monster of Quinerly, Jones, and Tomlin combined for 85 points and 19 rebounds. 

As the clock expired, Memphis moved into sole possession of the all-important 4th seed in the conference standings. While UAB still holds the tiebreaker over Memphis, the Tigers path to a first-round bye in Fort Worth is easier than anyone could have anticipated a week ago. 

The Tigers will travel to Boca Raton, Florida next Saturday to play their second game against FAU. The game will be on CBS at 11:00 a.m. CT. 

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