The first game with James Wiseman out of the lineup for the Tigers went better than when he did not play in the preseason. The Tigers easily defeated the Alcorn Braves 102-56. The Tigers improve to 3-1 after getting their first loss of the season earlier this week against the Oregon Ducks.
“No knock on Alcorn, we are supposed to win this game,” said Tigers head coach Penny Hardaway. “You have to challenge yourself. You want to do things that will carry over to the Little Rock game and get better by the Ole Miss game. I felt we got behind the eight ball with James and Precious got into foul trouble against Oregon. We need Lance and Isiah Maurice to step up if we get in that situation again.”
With the absence of Wiseman, Penny Hardaway told the media that he did not want to just to slide Precious Achiuwa to the center position. Instead, Lance Thomas got his first career start at Memphis.
The Tigers got off to a sluggish start, leading 19-16 just over halfway through the first half. But from there, Memphis turned on the jets, going on a 33-8 run to take a 52-24 halftime lead. The Tigers did not force many three-point shots (2-8) and used their size to have a 32-12 advantage of scoring inside.
The Tigers forced 16 turnovers and made 17 points off those turnovers. The Tigers had very balanced first-half scoring, led by Achiuwa (13 points), D. J. Jeffries and Tyler Harris (eight points each) and Lester Quiñones Jr. (seven points).
The dominance of the Tigers was led by Quinones. The freshman went 5-5 from the field including a three-pointer and 3-3 from the free-throw line. Quiñones finished with his first career double-double of 21 points and 10 rebounds.
“Going into games like this, coach really emphasizes us moving the ball and focusing on the little things, like defensive fundamentals and rotations and stuff like that,” said Quinones, whose birthday was Saturday. “I was (concentrating) on crashing the boards since they are a pretty undersized team and just breaking the press and finding my open teammates.”
Achuiwa was the team’s second-leading scorer with 20 points. Achuiwa made only 8 of 20 free throw attempts. As a team, Memphis did not try to force shots from 3-point range, going just 4 of 16 from the arc. Harris connected on 3 of his 6 attempts.
“I felt we did a really good job turning them over 26 times,” Memphis coach Penny Hardaway said. “That’s something that we want to do. We felt like at the Oregon game, we needed to pressure more. We didn’t get an opportunity to pressure as much.”
There has not been any indication on how long Wiseman will be out of action. Hardaway said during the press briefing on Friday that that are in a watch and see position and just waiting for a response from the NCAA on when Wiseman will if ever to when he can return to action for the Tigers.
The Alcorn State game was part of the Barclays Center Classic series. The Tigers will play Little Rock- Arkansas on Wednesday November 20 at 7 pm. That game is also a part of the series. The Tigers will travel to New York City on November 28 to play North Carolina State for the final game in this series.