On a three-game skid, the University of Memphis Tigers made it four in row with a 68-64 loss to the Knights of Central Florida at the FedExForum on Saturday.
With an announced attendance of 7,163, the Tigers put bad defense on display, again. A.J. Davis (20 points) and B.J. Taylor (24 points) scored the bulk of the Knights’ total.
The Tigers allowed the Knights to shoot at least 50 percent from the floor in both halves of the game, 56 percent in the first half and 50 percent in second. Most of the points for the Knights came on the inside. They outscored the Tigers 42-28 on points within the paint.
“It is a disappointing loss,” Memphis head coach Tubby Smith said, noting the defense in particular.
“One of our goals is to hold an opponent to a certain percentage. Once again, the three-point shot did us end; as well as in the paint. They beat us in that area quite a bit.”
Smith praised the “good effort” of Kyvon (Davenport) and said team leader Jeremiah Martin “played well. He banged his hip. We just didn’t get much scoring out of our guard spot.”
The Tigers’ ongoing shortcomings tend to show “at the same point in the game where we are tied or be in the game,” Smith said, adding that players are coached on game situations.
“We are not getting the stops. Every game it happens that way. I don’t know if it is fatigue or what or a lack of concentration.”
With the first half winding down, Central Florida was holding for the last shot when Taylor took a 28-foot shot that was short. Rokas Ulvydas managed to not only catch the air ball, he put in back in for the easy layup, giving the Knights a 32-30 half-time advantage.
Davenport scored 10 of the Tiger’s first 14 points. He played only play six minutes in the last game, a loss to the Wichita State Shockers. Against the Knights, Davenport came out aggressive without being reckless. He finished with a career-high 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
A back-and-forth affair, the game was tied 12 times, with the teams last knotted at 50 with 10:21 remaining. The Tigers cut the deficit to two points or less on several occasions, but never led from that point.
The Tigers got a big scare when Martin was injured with 6:10 left to play and left for an examination. He returned with 5:16 left in the game. The conference’s leading scorer, Martin finished with 17 points.
Mike Parks Jr. was asked about the state of the Tigers’ locker room in the wake of the losses.
“We still have to be positive,” he said, “and we still have to continue to encourage one another.”
Davenport said the Tigers have to “go back to practice and to keep working on our plays. We have to work on the things that we are good at on the offensive side. We have to figure out what are the plays we score the most on and what is going to get us the open shots.”
Next up for the Tigers
The Tigers (14-11,5-7 in the American Athletic Conference) will travel to play the Southern Methodist University Mustangs in Dallas on Wednesday (February 14). The game can be seen on ESPNU at 8 p.m central. The last time the Tigers played SMU they were on the wrong end of a 40-point loss. The Tigers will stay on the road and travel to the New Orleans on Saturday. They play the Tulane Green Wave at 2 p.m.