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TIGER BASKETBALL: After blowout loss to Tulsa, Tigers look to bounce back vs. SMU Mustangs

Memphis loves its Tiger basketball team – so much that fans express how and what needs to be done to the basketball team. There’s no better time to give that expert advice than after a loss, and Memphis had an historic loss earlier this week to Tulsa (40-80).

It was one of the worst losses in the past 40 years. Fans and trolls on Twitter and talk radio all have an opinion on what the Tigers should do and why their advice is best. Some say they should tighten the rotation. Others say Tigers coach Penny Hardaway isn’t playing the right people at the right time.

The man with his finger on the pulse of the team had a simple reason for the lopsided game against Tulsa.

“We did not play any defense today,” Hardaway said after the game. “I saw the energy way down.  They (Tulsa) did not need much motivation for us coming in here.”

“We will get better from it.”

Memphis will have a chance to get the bad taste of that loss out of their mouth today at 3 pm at the FedExForum. That’s when they’ll tipoff against the Southern Methodist University Mustangs. Here are some keys to the game:

Toughness

Memphis has been one of the best defensive teams in the country this season. But against Tulsa, the hustle just was not there. That is what disappointed Hardaway the most in the loss.

He wants his team to always compete on the defensive end of the court. He wants the team defensive effort to trigger their offense.

“We look at that one game and let’s get that behind us and not let it carry over to the next game,” said Hardaway.

He’s counting on his team to remember why they lost – so it won’t happen again.

Energy

In Tulsa, the team did not have the energy needed to compete on the road against a quality opponent. Memphis may have taken Tulsa lightly, because of the name on the front of their jersey and not the conference standings.

“They confused our guys a lot,” said Hardaway.

But energy shouldn’t be a problem in front of a friendly crowd at FedExForum. It better not be, anyway.

“Defensively, we can’t show up like that again,” Hardaway said. “We did not have any fight for the first time all season.  Let’s just be who we really are.”

Back to the basics

Memphis has put a focus on “the men in the mirror.”  They are going to put more focus on  their team and not their opponents. The team spent the better part of the first practice just working on defensive sets.

Hardaway said he is going to put three players in charge of bringing the ball up the court to reduce the number of unforced turnovers.

The SMU Mustangs (14-4, 4-2) enter the game with a two-game winning streak and 4-2 record in the conference – a half-game ahead of the Tigers.  Tipoff is at 3 p.m. and the game can be seen nationally on CBS.

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