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With Memphis and Alabama State ties noted, Tigers savor ‘a good win’

Terry Davis

The Hornets of Alabama State definitely have a Memphis flavor. Their head coach, Tony Madlock, is a former college teammate of University of Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway and four of their players are from the Bluff City area. Madlock also was on Hardaway’s staff for three years.

That connectivity was a matter-of-fact backdrop as Memphis (10-3) easily defeated Alabama State 83-61 at FedExForum on Wednesday night.

“He is like my brother. We grew up together,” said Hardaway of Madlock. “We take so much pride in being from Memphis. To coach against him was cool. He knows what I know. … We talk two or three times a week.”

The Hornets (1-11) were not a serious challenge for the Tigers, who completed their non-conference schedule with a victory in a game in which they were overwhelming favorites. It was the very definition of a “trap” game.

Alabama State Coach Tony Madlock (Photo: Terry Davis/The New Tri-State Defender)

“Most teams are falling today with trap games,” Hardaway said. “We did not take Alabama State for granted. We got a good win right before the break.”

The Tigers won with eight players (seven seeing the bulk of the action) as several rotation players were out with injuries.

“I am proud of the eight guys that played tonight. …  I did get what I wanted from the guys today. I am glad we got away with no injuries.”

U of M head coach Penny Hardaway maps the path forward against Alabama State. (Photo: Terry Davis/The New Tri-State Defender)

Memphis led by as many as 13 points in the first half. With 8:83 left in the opening half, Alabama State cut the Tigers’ lead down to two points with a 6-0 run. The Tigers pushed back with a 5-0 run and led 47-37 at halftime.

In the second half, the Tigers did not give the Hornets a chance to make it interesting, accelerating to a 19-point lead (59-40) in the first four minutes and growing the advantage to 26 at one point.

With four minutes to go, Ian Grandja – the only Tiger player who had not gotten into action – made his season debut. Damaria Franklin and Elijah McCadden made their first starts of the season.

DeAndre Williams with an aggressive move to the basket. (Photo: Terry Davis/The New Tri-State Defender)

DeAndre Williams led the Tigers in scoring, tying a career-high with 25 points (seven rebounds). He now has scored over 1,000 career points between Evansville and Memphis).

“I was being aggressive. Putting my head down and getting in the paint,” Williams said. “I was trying to make a play for myself or my teammates. … We were down today. We knew we had to come out more aggressive, to pull out the win.”

Kaodrichi Akobundu-Ehiogu (Kao) had a career-high 14 points and a career-high 7 blocked shots. Kendric Davis also had 14 points. McCadden finished with 10 points and 8 rebounds.

Kaodrichi Akobundu-Ehiogu is making his mark with rebounds and defense. (Photo: Terry Davis/The New Tri-State Defender)

Akobundu-Ehiogu talked about the joy of “protecting the rim. It is an advantage. Most blocks lead to fast breaks. …

“I came from a lower level (of basketball) and I have been adjusting to this level and my confidence is getting up there. I get myself going with defense.”

Note:

  • Here is how the Alabama State players with Memphis connections faired: Amar Knox (Bartlett), eight points, four rebounds, three assists; Alex Anderson (Tipton-Rosemark), 16 points, four rebounds, one assist; Duane Posey (East), six points, 10 rebounds, two assists; T. J. Madlock (Houston) and the son of head coach, 9 points, 10 rebounds, five assists. Knox, Anderson and Madlock started for the Hornets.
  • Hardaway wished Tiger Nation a great Holiday season: “Thank you for being behind us and rooting for us. They are our backbone. That is the energy we get when we are in the building.”
  • The Tigers will get an extended break. They next play the South Florida Bulls on Dec. 29 at 7 p.m. The Bulls feature former University of Memphis guard and former Cordova High School star, Tyler Harris. Harris has been averaging 15 points this season.

GALLERY

 

 

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