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Memphis Tigers outlast UTSA Roadrunners in OT thriller, 107-101

When you’re a nationally-ranked team, opponents often come in with extra motivation, seeing it as an opportunity to make headlines by defeating a higher-ranked team. Wednesday night, it was the scrappy UTSA Roadrunners in the underdog role, seeking to knock off the 13th-ranked Memphis Tigers.

And while it took an overtime period to pull it off, Memphis pulled out a 107-101 win over the Roadrunners in their first meeting as fellow members of the American Athletic Conference. It’s the Tigers’ ninth straight win, improving their record to 14-2 overall and 3-0 in the conference.

“I am happy to get the win. We scored 107 points but gave up 101,” said Tigers Coach Penny Hardaway. “We are winning while learning. I’ll take it.”

The Roadrunners initially led the Tigers, showcasing impressive shooting prowess, especially from beyond the arc.

“We are not guarding,” Hardaway said of his team’s first-half defensive struggles. “When you don’t guard, you are going to have an opportunity to lose every game. We guarded the non-conference (teams) better than we are the conference teams.”

However, the Tigers rallied in the second half, overcoming a tie at the first TV timeout to eventually gain a lead. The game remained tightly contested, with UTSA tying the game with seconds left in regulation.

However, in overtime, the Tigers pulled ahead, largely thanks to a four-point play by Jahvon Quinerly.

UTSA had six players scoring in double digits, led by Jordan Ivy-Curry with 28 points. Despite their efforts, the Tigers’ free-throw shooting and rebounding edge proved decisive.

Hardaway acknowledged UTSA’s three-point shooting, noting that while some were due to miscommunication, others were simply good shots.

“They were getting the open looks and hitting them.  It doesn’t look like it, but we went into the game to take the three-pointers away,” Hardaway said. “We should have lost this game the way they shot the basketball, but we got to the line and won it.”

Quinerly had 25 points, David Jones had 26 points and 11 rebounds, Jourdain had 18 points and 12 rebounds, Jaykwon Walton had 13 points and Malcolm Dandridge had 10 points. The Tigers connected on 30 of 43 free throws and outrebounded the Roadrunners 43-34.

Hardaway praised Walton’s scoring ability and Jourdain’s versatility on the court.

“Jaykwon is a proven scorer in this league,” Hardaway said. “He is still trying to find his way around. He is still trying to figure it out.  With Caleb out, I think he feels like he can get some more shots up. He is playing better with more minutes.”

“It has been up and down, but that is life,” Walton said. “I am getting back to myself.”

Meanwhile, Jourdain emphasized the need for the team to work on defensive rotations and communication.

“Some of the things we did offensively were good,” he said. “We have a lot to work on, rotation-wise, communication-wise and knowing the personnel.  As a team, we must be accountable.”

The Tigers next face Wichita State in Kansas. The team, having recently dealt with travel issues on a trip to Tulsa, is preparing for another challenging journey due to cold weather. The upcoming game is scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 14, followed by a home game against South Florida on Jan. 19.

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