Tag: Memphis

2018-2019 American Athletic Conference Preview

Preseason Player of the Year:

B.J. Taylor, UCF

Preseason All-Conference Team:

Jalen Adams, UConn

Corey Davis Jr., Houston

Tacko Fall, UCF

Jeremiah Martin, Memphis

B.J. Taylor, UCF

Preseason Newcomer of the Year:

DeJon Jarreau, Houston

Projected Order of Finish:

1. UCF

The Knights thought they had a chance at an at-large bid last season, but injuries ravaged them all season. UCF’s two all-conference level players, seniors B.J. Taylor and Tacko Fall, only played in one game together last season while Aubrey Dawkins missed the entire season altogether. All three are healthy and along with sophomore guard Ceasar Dejesus, senior Dayon Griffin and junior Terrell Allen, they appear to be the best team in the American. Time to see how they play with expectations.

2. Cincinnati

The Bearcats enter the season with quite a bit to replace. Kyle Washington, Jacob Evans and Gary Clark are gone as headcoach Mick Cronin looks to new guys to replace their production. With Cronin’s defensive system it won’t be as hard as it would be at other places. Expect Cronin to turn to juniors Jarron Cumberland and senior Cane Broome to fill in the blanks.

3. Houston

The Cougars are coming off of their best season since the early 90’s. However they have to replace one of the best guards in the country in Rob Gray Jr. The nation was introduced to Gray during the postseason, but everyone in Houston is preparing for life without him. Senior guard Corey Davis Jr returns as one of the best shooters in the country while his backcourt mate Galen Robinson will steady the ship. UMass transfer DeJon Jarreau and freshman Nate Hinton will also add a punch. The Cougars should be in the bubble conversation.

4. UConn

It ended poorly in Storrs for Kevin Ollie, but new head coach Dan Hurley has UConn fans excited for the future. With senior all-conference candidate Jalen Adams returning with junior Chirstian Vital the Huskies will have one of the best starting backcourts in the American. Just how good the depth of their backcourt depends on the health of sophomore Alterique Gilbert. If he’s healthy, Husky fans dreams of the returning to the tournament are not far-fetched.

5. Memphis

Like UConn, the Memphis fanbase has been energized by a new coach. However, it’s ramped up by 1,000 in Memphis as Penny Hardaway has returned to lead his alma mater. Hardaway inherits a team that played good basketball at the end of the season. Seniors Jeremiah Martin, Kyvon Davenport, Kareem Brewton and Mike Parks will lead a team that expects to challenge the top of this league. With freshmen Alex Lomax, Antwann Jones, and Tyler Harris, the future is bright for Penny.

6. SMU

SMU is a team that started the season hot before being ravaged by injury. The team managed to remain competitive and never gave up on coach Tim Jankovich. Returning for the Mustangs will be senior guard Jahmal McMurray while the health of senior guard Jarrey Foster will be a concern. Transfer Isiaha Mike and sophomore forward Ethan Chargois will need to provide additional scoring.

7. Temple

Head coach Fran Dunphy is a Philly legend, but he’s entering his last season before handing the reigns over to Aaron McKie. This transitional year will be interesting as the Owls will have plenty talent in the backcourt with junior Quinton Rose and senior Shizz Alston. Those two will give opposing coaches headaches all season as they attempt to give Dunphy the proper sendoff.

8. Tulsa

Frank Haith continues to do an unremarkable job at Tulsa. It’s not one of the better jobs in the league, but the program is as lukewarm as lukewarm can get right now. For that to change, Haith’s trio of upperclassmen, seniors Sterling Taplin and Daquan Jeffries and junior Martins Igbunu, will have to step up to replace Junior Etou and Corey Henderson.

9. Wichita St

Not since Gregg Marshall took over Wichita St has he had a rebuild like the one he has now. The Shockers have to replace Shaq Morris, Landry Shamet, Austin Reaves and Connor Frankamp. Senior forward Markis McDuffie is the key returner and Shocker fans are still waiting for him to reach his potential. Expect freshmen Morris Udeze and Jamarius Burton to earn minutes right away.

10. Tulane

Mike Dunleavy got his Green Wave off to a surprising start last season, but by the time league play started they had already come down to Earth. Melvin Frazier and Cameron Reynolds are gone off of a team that already struggled. So it will be up to juniors Ray Ono Embo, Samir Sehic and senior Jordan Cornish to try to dig the Green Wave out of the depths of the American.

11. East Carolina

Head coach Joe Dooley returns to ECU to try to do something no other coach in ECU history has done and that’s make the Pirates relevant. That won’t be easy, but at least he’ll have junior forward Seth LeDay at his disposal. The backcourt of sophomore Shawn Williams and senior Isaac Fleming will also help.

12. USF

The Bulls probably won’t be that great, but that’s not indicative of the long-term prospects here. There’s a renovated on-campus arena and a second-year head coach in Brian Gregory with plenty to sell. Not much returns from last season, but there is a young nucleus featuring sophomore guard Davids Collins, freshman guard Xavier Castaneda and freshman center Michael Durr that could be the foundation of something big.

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Cincinnati 70 Memphis 60 AAC Semi-Finals

The No. 1 Cincinnati Bearcats (29-4) raced out of halftime to defeat the No. 5 Memphis Tigers (21-13) 70-60 in the first semi-final of the American Athletic Conference Championship.

Cincinnati started the second half on a 21-2 run and out-scored the Tigers 41-18 overall in the half. Senior forward Kyle Washington said it was a position the Bearcats had been in before, but not one he’d like to be in again.

“We’ve been in that situation before, to tell you the truth,” Washington said. “We can’t put ourselves in that situation. We have to come out from the gate with a sense of urgency.”

Memphis went into the half with a 42-29 lead in large part because freshman guard Jamal Johnson went 4-4 from behind the arc. Cincinnati senior forward Gary Clark said his team didn’t follow the scouting report and let Johnson get comfortable.

“When you let a guy like that get comfortable then the rim gets bigger,” Clark said. “In the second half we just tried to adjust and not let him get comfortable looks.”

Sophomore guard Jarron Cumberland led the Bearcats with 18 points while Clark added 17 and 12 rebounds. The Tigers were led by Johnson’s 17 points with an additional 12 by junior forward Kyvon Davenport.

The Bearcats move on to face the winner of the game between No. 3 Houston vs. No. 2 Wichita St. There is speculation surrounding the future of Tigers’ head coach Tubby Smith so the postseason may be in the cards for them.

Memphis 67 Tulsa 64 AAC Quarterfinals

The No. 5 Memphis Tigers (21-12) used a buzzer-beating runner from junior guard Kareem Brewton, Jr. to defeat the No. 4 Tulsa Golden Hurricane (19-12) 67-64.

“It’s just a basketball instinct that you have when the ball come off [your hands] good,” said Brewton. “You feel like its going to go in and that’s what happened.”

The Golden Hurricane struggled shooting all game long. They shot just 41% from the floor, including 2-16 from behind the arc, and 55 percent from the free-throw line. Golden Hurricane head coach Frank Haith expressed he was fine with the shots his team got, but called the shooting performance “unfortunate.”

“We had some really good looks; we just didn’t knock any of them down,” Haith said.

Meanwhile, Memphis had its own struggles as the Tigers had 13 first-half turnovers and 18 overall for the game. Tigers’ head coach Tubby Smith said it was certainly a topic of conversation at halftime.

“We talked about taking care of the basketball,” Smith said. “We had quite a few turnovers.”

Memphis was led by Brewton and junior forward Kyvon Davenport, who both finished with 15 points. Senior guard Corey Henderson, Jr. led Tulsa with 20 while junior guard Sterling Taplin added 14.

Memphis moves on to face No. 1 Cincinnati in the semifinals. Tulsa hopes to continue its season in the NIT.

Memphis 79 USF 77 AAC First Round

 

 

MemphisUSFPostgame
Memphis head coach Tubby Smith along with Kyvon Davenport, David Nickelberry and Kareem Brewton, Jr. meet with the media

 

No. 5 Memphis (20-12) bent, but didn’t break down the stretch as the Tigers held on to beat the No. 12 USF Bulls (10-22) 79-77 in Thursday’s first round of the American Athletic Conference championship.

“I’m really proud of how guys hung in there today and finished the game,” Memphis head coach Tubby Smith said. “Even though we lost the lead there, we still did the things to get the win.”

The Tigers held a double-digit lead for much of the second half, but watched it dwindle away late in the game due to scrappy play by the Bulls and their own sloppy play. It is something that junior guard Kareem Brewton, Jr. says Memphis needs to clean up as it takes a step up against No. 4 Tulsa on Friday.

“I feel like we should execute a little bit more – get back to running our plays,” Brewton said. “I felt like we got out of that a little bit at the end.”

Off the court, it’s been a trying week for Smith. A CBS Sports’ Gary Parish report that the Memphis administration was mulling giving the coaching job to Memphis native and former Tiger Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway. Then before the game news broke that Smith’s son, GiGi, was fired as the head coach of Loyola (Md.). Smith said he personally feels supported by the administration, but the business of coaching is tough.

“It’s the profession we chose and unfortunately, you are hired to be fired usually unless you’re in some program that’s just unbelievable,” Smith said.

Memphis was paced by junior forward Kyvon Davenport, who finished with 27 points, while freshman guard David Nickleberry chipped in 14 off the bench. USF’s freshman guard David Collins poured in a career high 30 points for the Bulls with senior guard Stephan Jiggetts chipping in 16.

The Tigers, who’ve now won 6 of their last 7, get to keep their NCAA tournament hopes alive one more day as they face the Tulsa Golden Hurricane on Friday. USF’s season is over.

 

 

 

Live From the American Conference Semifinals

In an unlikely semi-final matchup, the Memphis Tigers (19-14) cruised to a 74-54 victory over the upstart Tulane Green Wave (12-22).

It appeared that playing three games in as many days had caught up with the Green Wave. As turnovers and missed shots began to pile. To add on even more, the team has been dealing with rumors that its coach will be fired once the season ends.

“From day one since I’ve been in this program Coach Conroy always preached to keep the
outside noise out and don’t listen to what no one says and just stay together,” said senior guard Louis Dabney. “When all that was going down, we didn’t really bother to even care, because Coach Conroy always put us first.”

Memphis will now try to play spoiler for a bubble team as it has a chance to win an automatic bid by defeating UConn.

“We know we’re going to have to play a great game if we want to have an opportunity to beat them,” Memphis coach Josh Pastner said. “But we’re excited about the challenge, and it should be a high level game with two high level teams tomorrow afternoon.”

UPDATE: 9:45 p.m.

The UConn Huskies (23-10) continue to ride the wave of emotion following their quadruple overtime win on Friday with an impressive 77-62 victory over the Temple Owls (21-11).

“It was a well-played game by our guys,” said UConn head coach Kevin Ollie. “They were focused. They were determined to get to the championship game.”

The game was decided midway through the first half when the Huskies went on a 35-11 run to turn an eight-point deficit at 14:05 into a 16-point lead at 1:44 in the first half.

Temple struggled with UConn’s size in the first half – struggling to finish around the hoop causing it to shoot 28.1 percent and being outrebounded by nine boards at the break.

The Owls were able to dwindle the Huskies lead down to six on several occasions in the second half – the last being at 9:44. However, the Huskies had an answer to every run.

Sophomore guard Daniel Hamilton and senior forward Shonn Miller both finished with 19 points for the Huskies. Senior forward Jaylen Bond led the Owls with 17.

UConn saw its NCAA tournament hopes take another step forward and it can erase all doubt with a win in the championship game. In the meantime, Temple will have 24 hours to see if its fate will be the same as last season.

“It’s not in our hands,” said junior guard Josh Brown. “We pray that our name is called”

Live from the American Conference Tournament Quarterfinals

For the second year in a row, the Tulsa Golden Hurricane wilted under the pressure of the bubble as it fell to the Memphis Tigers 89-67.

Freshman forward Dedric Lawson scored 22 points and grabbed 12 boards. Senior guard Ricky Tarrant, Jr. and senior guard Trashon Burrell added 21 and 19 points respectively.

Tulsa was outsworked from the tip as Memphis seemed to be the more motivated team. Memphis out-rebounded Tulsa 43-35 and forced 13 turnovers.

Now, the American is a conference bubble teams around the country will be watching as the late semifinal will feature two teams that need an automatic bid to make the Big Dance.

Tune in tomorrow as the blog will be back live from the Amway Center for semifinal Saturday. Tulsa, meanwhile, will be on a flight back to Oklahoma pondering whether or not it will make the tournament.

UPDATE 12:20 a.m.

The upstart No. 10-seed Tulane Green Wave outscored the No. 2 seed Houston Cougars by 11 in the second half and pulled off the biggest upset of the day in Orlando with a 72-69 win.

With nine seconds left in the game, sophomore guard Cameron Reynolds knocked down a three to put the Green Wave up 70-69. On the ensuing Houston possession freshman guard Galen Robinson, Jr. turned the ball over.

Robinson’s turnover was indicative of a sloppy game for the Cougars as they allowed the Green Wave to stick around in the second half despite taking a eight-point lead into the break.

By the 13-minute mark, and despite the lead getting up to nine, the motivated Green Wave tied the game.

The victory was made all the more astonishing by the fact that reports came out during the game had Tulane head coach Ed Conroy being fired as soon as the season was over.

“I had two guys behind the bench put their phones up and say ‘hey coach, you’re gone,'” Conroy said. “That was fun when you’re trying to come back from an eight-point deficit.”

Houston’s faint at-large hopes are now certainly destroyed with a loss to a team, who’s RPI is below 230.

UPDATE 9:45 p.m.

In arguably the best game in the three-year history of the American Athletic Conference, the UConn Huskies (22-10) outlasted the Cincinnati Bearcats (22-10) in quadruple overtime 104-97.

The high drama came at the end of the third overtime. After Cincinnati junior guard Kevin Johnson broke a 95-95 tie with a three-pointer with .8 seconds left, UConn freshman guard Jalen Adams banked in a three from halfcourt to force a fourth overtime.

“It’s something that just happened,” Adams said. “Early in the year, me and (sophomore wing Daniel Hamilton) used to see who could make the most halfcourt shots. I guess it’s paying off.”

The Huskies trailed by as many as 11 in the first half, but fought back to take a seven-point lead with 3:36 remaining in the second half. However the Bearcats clawed their way back into the game to force overtime at 62-62

From there, the game became a slugfest with neither team leading by more than four in any of the first three overtime periods.

In the fourth overtime, UConn grabbed a five-point lead at 100-95, Cincinnati was able to cut it to three on a tip-in by senior forward Octavius Ellis with 25 seconds left. From there UConn was able to salt the game away from the free-throw line.

For UConn, they have a 3 p.m. tilt tomorrow with Temple. Cincinnati, on the other hand, is left to wonder about its NCAA tournament fate. It’s a fate that head coach Mick Cronin says should already be decided.

“I don’t even know why anyone would ask us the question, based on what we’ve accomplished this year versus the rest of the field,” Cronin said. “I understand that our conference doesn’t get as much respect by the people on TV a lot as some other people.”

UPDATE 6:25 p.m.

In the first game of the day here in Orlando, Temple (21-10) pulled away in the second half en route to a 79-62 win over South Florida (8-25).

The Owls were paced by senior guard Jaylen Bond’s 17 points and 8 rebounds. His fellow senior and backcourt mate, Quenton DeCosey added 14 points and 8 rebounds while sophomore forward Obi Enechionyia chipped in 13 and 5.

Meanwhile, the Bulls were led by junior forward Chris Perry who dropped 19 points and grabbed 8 boards. Freshman guard Jahmal McMurray added 16 points.

This blog believes the Owls are in, but they certainly saved themselves from a more nerve wracking weekend by taking care of business versus the Bulls – especially with this being the day that will make or break bubble teams around the country.

Despite that, the Owls say after last year’s disappointment their only focus is the automatic bid.

“Having that feeling from last year, we all remember it. We all remember how it felt,” Enechionyia said. “That’s something we all want to experience – getting to the tournament. Getting to play late in the season.

“Having that feeling in our minds and remembering that. I think its motivated all of us,” he continued

Kentucky Blues

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Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari

It’s hard to do what John Calipari did in the previous three years at Kentucky.  He’s taken extremely young teams, meshed them perfectly and had great seasons.  People may have opinions about his tactics, but he’s found a way to work within the system.

However, relying on freshmen and sophomores every year is going to produce some seasons like the one the Wildcats are currently experiencing.  It’s hard to count on young players to give you consistency  in effort and performance on a night-in night-out basis.

It’s doubly hard in a year when the freshman class just isn’t that good nationally.  Nerlens Noel was arguably the best freshman in the country but Archie Goodwin, Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein haven’t been what Calipari expected.

People around the country are wondering what’s wrong with Kentucky.  It’s just the natural progression of a young team.  It’s tough for Big Blue Nation this season, but no one should shed a tear for Kentucky fans.  They’ll be back.

Stock Up: Memphis.  The Tigers are making the most of their last season in Conference-USA.  They’re dominating right now with an 11-0 record including a convincing 13-point win over second-place Southern Miss.  They’re poised for a strong finish.

Stock Down: Ohio St.  Now I’m pretty confident that the Buckeyes are going to make the tournament.  However their resume leaves a lot to be desired.  You wouldn’t even be able to call Ohio St paper champions with the way its resume looks right now.

Stock Up: Colorado St. New Mexico is in first place by a half game in the Mountain West, but Colorado St is turning heads out west.  The Rams are following up on an outstanding year last year with another this year and looks prime for a solid seed in the Big Dance.

Stock Down: The end of Bracketbusters.  This was a great event for mid-majors to get a signature win and has directly led to some squads getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.  If George Mason doesn’t have the opportunity to beat Wichita St in Wichita in 2006 then the Patriots end up in the NIT and the Final Four.

This Week’s Bracket Projections.

Last Four In: Alabama, Temple, California, Villanova

Last Four Out: Baylor, St. Mary’s, Indiana St, Iowa

This bracket is good for games through 2/18.

MIDWEST

1.Indiana16.Charleston Southern/Norfolk St Dayton, OH

8.Saint Louis9.Missouri

5.Marquette12.Belmont Austin

4.Oregon13.Akron

6.Illinois11.Creighton Salt Lake City

3.New Mexico14.Valparaiso

7.Pittsburgh10.Virginia Kansas City

2.Kansas15.Stony Brook

WEST

1.Michigan St16.Robert Morris Auburn Hills, MI

8.UNLV9.Colorado

5.Butler12.Mississippi Austin

4.Georgetown13.South Dakota St

6.Ohio St11.Middle Tennessee St Salt Lake City

3.Arizona14.Davidson

7.Cincinnati10.La Salle Philadelphia

2.Duke15.Mercer

EAST

1.Florida16.Niagara Lexington, KY

8.Notre Dame9.San Diego St

5.Wisconsin12.Louisiana Tech Kansas City

4.Kansas St13.California/Temple

6.NC State11.Arizona St Dayton, OH

3.Louisville14.Stephen F. Austin

7.Minnesota10.Oklahoma San Jose

2.Gonzaga15.Montana

SOUTH

1.Miami(FL)16.Northeastern/Southern Lexington, KY

8.UCLA9.Wichita St

5.Colorado St12.Villanova/Alabama San Jose

4.Oklahoma St13.Bucknell

6.VCU11.Iowa St Philadelphia

3.Syracuse14.Harvard

7.Memphis10.North Carolina Auburn Hills, MI

2.Michigan15.Long Beach St

In graphical form