The Tigers returned to play in the HoopHall Classic in Miami, FL and played the No. 20 Texas Tech Red Raiders.
Memphis Tiger’s Coach Penny Hardaway was visibly upset about how his team played in the AdvoCare Tournament last week in Orlando. Hardaway had a week to adjust and further impress his vision into this team. But those adjustments were not enough and the Tigers fell 78-67 to the Red Raiders.
The Tigers opened the game playing a more controlled tempo that allowed for open shots by Tyler Harris and improved the defensive play of the Tigers. The Tigers did not allow the Red Raiders to get comfortable on offense. Nor did Texas Tech get easy uncontested layups as Memphis had been allowing in the previous games.
Harris was hitting shots from behind the NBA line that was on the court. Harris finished the game with a team-high 17 points, but 13 of those came in the first half. Harris was the only Tigers to connect from three-point range going 3-8. Kyvon Davenport (13 points) was the only other Tiger that scored more than 10 points.
The Red Raiders made the halftime adjustment to deny Harris the basketball ball and to guard him at all times.
“They made an adjustment and went to a zone and play Tyler wide,” Hardaway said after the game. “They dared anyone else to make a shot and anyone that went to the basket (Tariq Owens) erased it”.
Texas Tech only led for four minutes in the game. The Tigers were in complete control of the game until 7:14 left in the game. That is when the Red Raiders went on a 21-4 run to take a 60-59 lead with 4:35 left.
“It was definitely frustrating for us,” Harris said. “It changed the pace of the game. I felt like we could have overcome it, but we got down on ourselves. We should have fought back.”
“We came out with an incredible game plan. We know what we could get and we bought into that in the first half,” Hardaway added. “In the second half, the plays that we ran and the people who had the ball could not finish the deal. We rushed some shots and we turned the ball over way too much. We didn’t meet their level of intensity.”
The tide of the game turn after the Tigers were unable to hit outside shots and were forced to go to the basket to attempt to score points. Owens was not having any of that. Owens finished the game with eight blocks and made players alter many other shots. The Tigers as a team on had two blocked shots. Owens had to sit most of the first half because of fouls.
The Tigers were not immune to fouls. Isaiah Maurice only played nine minutes and finished the game with four fouls. Raynere Thornton also had four fouls. Both were doing their best to contain the bigger Red Raiders.
Jeremiah Martin, who finished with seven points, three rebounds and four assists, said he needs to elevate his play to help the team win.
“I need to step up more. I can take the rap for what has been going on for the last few games, because I haven’t been playing well,” he said. “Once I get going, the team will get going. I am going to take the blame for this game and all the others that we have lost.”
Hardaway still took some positives away from the game.
“We did what we were taught to do for 30 minutes in the game with a team we were not supposed to be on the map with,” Hardaway said. “Texas Tech is one of the top defensive teams in the country. We knew what they were going to do. Things were open in the second half. I don’t know that the players’ mindset was, but we are building onto that.”
The Tigers (3-4) will not have to long reflect on this loss. They welcome South Dakota State on Tuesday, Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. at FedExForum.