The University of Memphis basketball team made its first road trip of the season Nov. 12, when they traveled to play the Oregon Ducks on a somewhat neutral court in Portland, Oregon at the Phil Knight Invitational.
Even though the University of Oregon campus is 110 miles from Portland, Ducks fans were in the house and got what they wanted: an Oregon win over the Memphis Tigers, 82-74.
Still playing while his NCAA eligibility is in questions, James Wiseman and Precious Achiuwa were saddled with fouls in the first half that hampered the Tigers.
Wiseman picked up two quick fouls in the first five minutes of the game. He left the game scoreless but with five rebounds and would not return until the second half.He finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds in a game with bigger implications than the final score.
Wiseman declined to comment on the case afterwards, and Hardaway declined to use the controversy as a crutch for his team’s performance.
“It’s been obviously a tough week for the 18-year-old, but we were ready to play,” Hardaway said. “We understood what was going on.”
The rest of the Tigers had to take up the slack for the missing big man in the middle. Fellow freshmen Damion Baugh and Lester Quiñones Jr. were up for the task. Quiñones played a game-high 34 minutes and led the team with 16 points.
Baugh also accumulated fouls, but scored 11 points and seven assists before fouling out of the game. Baugh was the focal point leading the offense and spearheading the full-court pressure for the Tigers.
In the first half, the Tigers trailed by as many as 12 points and could have used every excuse to toss in the towel, but the continued to claw back into the game and trail 41-35 at the half.
The Tigers cut the deficit to four points on several occasions in the second half but could not get the right stop and make to seriously threaten. Wiseman was more productive in the second half with 14 points and finished with 12 rebounds.
Chandler Lawson, the former Wooddale and East High School standout was a vital player in the win for the Ducks. Lawson, a freshman, played about 13 minutes off the Ducks bench scoring eight points and three rebounds.
The Ducks came into the game ranked No. 14 in the latest Associated Press college basketball poll, just one spot below the Tigers. The Ducks veteran leadership experience was important. Shakur Juiston, the grad transfer, led Oregon with 17 points, while Payton Pritchard chipped in 14 points.
“This game teaches us that, the stuff we do in practice these young guys don’t know what to expect,” said Tigers head coach Penny Hardaway. “I kept trying to tell them it is tough to win on the road. It gives them a better understanding of that of how you have to handle things.
“(Oregon) did a good job of running shooters off the line. They contested very well,” Hardaway said of his team’s poor shooting. The Tigers went just 4 of 23 on three-pointers and shot 37.7 for the game.
“We have got to learn from tough losses like this on the road,” Quiñones said. “We just got outplayed tonight. We have learned from this and come together.”
The Tigers will be back in action on Saturday November 16 at the FedExForum when they host the Alcorn State Braves at noon. This will be the last game before the next court appearance for James Wiseman for his battle to continue to play this season.
The next court date will be Monday November 18. At that time, we will find out if the temporary injunction will be removed or extended.