A one-point defeat in overtime drives the mind to find two points. And while there were some glaring stat-sheet places to look in the Tigers’ 90-89 loss to Tulane in OT, Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway thinks one main point was the difference.
“That team has been chasing us like we were chasing Houston last year. They were hungry and got their same unit back. They wanted it more than us,” said Hardaway.
“No matter what I said, we couldn’t get in the same mind frame. They thought just because we were at home, we were going to win the game. You can’t take anything for granted.”
The Green Wave swept the series with the Tigers. Tulane knocked off Memphis 96-89 in overtime in New Orleans on New Year’s Day. Saturday’s loss at FedExForum snapped a four-game winning streak and put an end to a string of 16 home-court wins.
Tulane (15-7, 8-3 American Athletic Conference) moves ahead of the Tigers (17-6, 7-3 AAC) in the standings.
Just did not feel like a revenge game to me. I don’t know why we were not in this mode,” said Hardaway, referencing the early loss to the Green Wave.
“We knew what was at stake – home court, they were right behind us in the standings. An opportunity to (win) in front of the home crowd with Lorenzen’s (Wright) jersey being retired and coach (Larry) Finch bobblehead being presented today. We did not do a good enough job to win the game.”`
The Tigers got off to a good start taking an early 12-4 lead that grew to double-digits. But the Green Wave got rolling and pulled within three (46-43) at the half.
Turnovers (22) and missed free throws – 10, including three in OT – plagued Memphis. The Tigers outrebounded Tulane (48-28) but could not take advantage of their domination on the boards.
“They were just shrinking the court, packing the paint and making us take jump shots,” Hardaway said. “We were getting in too deep and making the wrong pass.”
The Green Wave also had issues with turnovers (18), yet found a way to win. Jalen Cook led the way with 25 points. Kevin Cross had 22 points and 5 assists and Jaylen Forbes had 22 points and 7 rebounds.
Kendric Davis the Tigers with 27 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds. He also set two American Athletic Conference records –583 assists and 497 free throws. DeAndre Williams had 19 points, 17 rebounds and 5 assists. Keonte Kennedy finished with 16 points.
“We did not put them away when we had a chance,” Davis said. “I had too many turnovers to start the game. I have to be way better than that.
“We had too many missed free throws. We gave up a layup on miscommunications. We did everything we could to let them stick around. They made us pay.”
Next up for the Tigers is a mid-week trip to play the South Florida Bulls in Tampa, Fla. Feb. 8. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. (CST), with the game televised on ESPN+.