Memphis Tigers head coach Penny Hardaway has been preaching to his team how difficult it will be to win conference games this season, whether they are at home or on the road.
Well, the Tigers got back on track with a good road win against the South Florida Bulls, 68-64, snapping a two-game Tiger losing streak.
USF gave Memphis all they wanted, even taking a 14-point lead before the Memphis defense triggered their offense. The Tigers were able to take control of the game and get out of Tampa with a win.
While it was widely believed Memphis would drop out of the AP Top 25 and USA Today polls after consecutive losses to Georgia and Wichita State, Memphis is currently ranked No. 22. with another AAC rival coming to town.
Here are three keys to the game against the Cincinnati Bearcats.
Hardaway said he may have found out why the Tigers have been turning the basketball over so much – they’re making too many passes. The team has stopped trying to make the hero plays; now they just need to know when not to pass.
Another thing Hardaway has mentioned is for the team to balance its fast-paced play with playing under control. At times, the Tigers have played too fast, leading to too many unforced errors. Some turnovers are expected, but at one point in the South Florida game, USF had 10 more shot attempts than the Tigers. Memphis might not survive that type of statistic against the Bearcats.
The Bearcats are in their first year under new head coach John Brennan, who made a couple of appearances in the NCAA as a coach at the University of Northern Kentucky. Under Brennan, Cincy is 10-6 overall and 3-1 in the AAC. The Bearcats also still have senior guard Jarron Cumberland (13 points, 3.3 rebounds). He is a beast to deal with.
The Tigers enter the game with a 2-1 record in conference play and it is very important to hold serve at home. The Bearcats’ lone conference loss occurred on the road against Tulane – the same Green Wave team that gave Memphis a scare a couple of weeks ago.
Precious, Precious Precious
When Precious Achiuwa chose to play Memphis, he did not anticipate playing the role he is playing. But he has bought in and has raised his game.
Achiuwa has had double-doubles in his last five games and nine overall midway through the season. Most NBA mock drafts have Achiuwa’s draft stock rising.
Achiuwa was named the American Athletic Conference Freshman of the Week, the third time the American has honored Achiuwa. He was also named the National Freshman of Week by CBS Sports, the second time he has won that honor. Achiuwa will need to continue to play at this level for Memphis to beat Cincy.
Memphis Tigers vs. Cincinnati Bearcats tips off at 6 p.m. at FedExForum. The game can be seen nationally on ESPN