In a crucial game for the Memphis Tigers, they defeated the SMU Mustangs 81-62 on Thursday night. The game was also point guard Kendric Davis’s return to Moody Coliseum. He led the Tigers to victory with 23 points and ten assists, while Damaria Franklin added 15 points, and DeAndre Williams contributed 13 points. The Mustangs were led by Zach Nutall’s 15 points and six rebounds, and Samuell Williamson’s 14 points, 11 rebounds, and three steals.
The Tigers’ win was imperative as they are on the bubble for an NCAA at-large tournament berth. With a record of 23-7 and 13-4 in the American Athletic Conference, a victory over SMU was essential to keep their tournament hopes alive. The Tigers have had a rollercoaster of a season and have suffered some tough losses. However, they have also had some impressive wins, including a victory over No. 24 Texas A&M earlier in the season.
The Tigers took control of the game early in the first half and never looked back. They took the lead with 13:09 left in the first half and scored 50 points in the first half alone. Their offense was firing on all cylinders, and they had an answer for everything the Mustangs threw at them. Memphis dominated the boards, out-rebounding SMU 42-28, and they also had 11 steals.
The Tigers’ defense was impressive, forcing SMU into 18 turnovers, which led to 25 points for Memphis. The Mustangs struggled to get into a rhythm and could not mount a comeback. Despite Nutall’s impressive performance, SMU could not overcome the Tigers’ dominance.
With this win, the Tigers have strengthened their tournament resume and have improved their chances of receiving an at-large bid. However, they cannot afford to let up now. They have one more regular-season game against the Houston Cougars, ranked No. 1 in the nation. A win over Houston would be another impressive victory for the Tigers, further solidifying their place in the tournament. Guard Alex Lomax was not available to play in Thursday’s game against SMU. There has not been an official word of why he was held out, but the notion is that it was because of preventive measures. That’s how important the matchup against the Cougars is right now.
Overall, the Memphis Tigers performed impressively against the SMU Mustangs. The Tigers secured a significant victory with their offense firing on all cylinders and their defense stifling SMU’s offense. They have one more game to play before the tournament, and they will need to bring the same intensity and focus on continuing their success.
What Lies Ahead
The Tigers now head home for a regular-season finale against the Houston Cougars. Houston won the previous matchup two weeks ago, 72-64. However, Davis was unavailable to play because of an ankle injury while playing against UCF on February 16. After the game’s conclusion against Houston, the Tigers will head into the AAC tournament. As of Thursday night, they are the No. 2 seed heading into the tournament. Hopefully, participation in March Madness should follow right after.
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