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Memphis Falls at FAU to Finish Regular Season

Memphis forward Nae'Qwan Tomlin wins the tip-off against FAU.
Memphis forward Nae'Qwan Tomlin wins the tip-off against FAU.

The Memphis Tigers lost to the Florida Atlantic Owls 92-84 in Boca Raton, effectively ending the Tigers’ hopes of an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. 

Memphis came into the game on a five-game winning streak, which included a 78-74 home win over the Owls. A win would have given the Tigers a big win and a chance to get a double bye in the conference tournament. 

FAU’s gym was sold out, and the university gave every seat a T-shirt. According to the Memphis Tigers Radio Network, this was the eleventh T-shirt giveaway game the Tigers have played in on the road this season. 

Several celebrities were in attendance as well. WNBA legend Lisa Lesley and NFL wide receivers Cris Carter, Antonio Brown, and Memphis’ own Isaac Bruce were among the crowd. 

The Tigers seemed ready for the moment early in the game, starting off with a 5-0 lead. FAU would respond by forcing the ball down low to Vlad Goldin, who went a perfect 9-9 from the field in the first matchup. 

Still, Memphis held the lead until the seven-minute mark in the first half, when FAU went into the media timeout up 25-24. 

The rest of the half went back and forth before a critical final minute. With 52 seconds left, Memphis trailed 36-35. FAU would close the half on a 5-0 run of their own, giving themselves a six-point halftime lead. 

The Owls continued to build separation with a three-pointer on the first possession of the second half.  

Memphis put together several runs in the second half, but they never regained the lead. FAU extended its lead to 14 at one point in the half. 

With two minutes to go, the Tigers cut the deficit to six points, but, like most of the second half, FAU responded. 

As the buzzer sounded, the Owls clinched the two-seed in the conference tournaments with a 92-84 win. 

Memphis finished the regular season at 22-9. The Tigers were led by Nae’Qwan Tomlin, who scored 27 points, hitting five of six three-pointers. 

Memphis’ offense played well in Boca Raton, as the Tigers shot 47% from the field and 50% from the three-point line. However, Florida Atlantic was able to get whatever they wanted on offense. FAU shot 49% from the field and outscored Memphis 46 to 24 in points in the paint. 

The Tigers will now have to win four games in four days next week to try to earn a bid to the NCAA tournament. No team in the ten-year history of the American Athletic Conference has won the conference tournament without the double bye. 

Memphis will play at 1:30 p.m. CT in Forth Worth against the winner of the 12 seed vs. 13 seed game on Thursday.

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