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Observations from the Memphis Tigers nonconference schedule

Photo courtesy of GoTigersGo.

On Wednesday night, the Memphis Tigers concluded the nonconference portion of their schedule when they defeated the Alabama State Hornets 83-61. The Tigers now head into the AAC portion of their schedule with a 10-3 record. Included in the Tigers’ 10-3 record in nonconference play was going 4-1 against the Southeastern Conference. Let’s look at a few observations from the Tigers’ performance during nonconference competitions.

Kendric Davis is the Scorer that the Tigers have Lacked

If the Tigers make it past the Sweet 16 in March, we can all point to the signing of Kendric Davis. When point guard Kendric Davis announced he was entering the transfer portal, he was immediately on the radar of head coach Penny Hardaway. The veteran guard has solved many issues that have plagued the Tigers under the watch of Coach Hardaway. One particular area that Davis has addressed is the Tigers’ need for a bonafide scorer in previous years. He has been the Tigers leading scorer for a significant portion of the 2022-2023 campaign.

The Team is More United than Ever

I’ve covered the Memphis Tigers basketball program since 2019 when the hype machine was generated due to the program having a roster loaded with four and five-star recruits. However, there always seemed to be something that needed to be added to those teams from previous seasons. Those squads lacked chemistry, and it always showed on the basketball court.

Those factors were trending that way last season until the team started to buy in and make sacrifices for the group’s betterment. The team unity has spread into this season. You can see it on the court and in postgame press conferences. The Tigers are all the way bought into the ultimate goal: to win a national title.

Performance During Nonconference Play Was Better than Previous Years

You can point out several games during the Memphis Tigers nonconference schedule, and you will notice the difference in this year’s squad compared to the previous teams. One game, in particular, was the matchup against St. Louis. If this were last year’s group playing against the Billikens, they would have been run off the court in the first half.

Despite the game ending in a losing effort, the Tigers fought hard to cut the deficit in half. The matchup against Seton Hall was another example of how battle-tested the Tigers were against another program with aspirations of playing in the NCAA tournament. It took a last-minute buzzer-beater by Seton Hall to put away the Tigers.

However, the biggest takeaway from the game was that the Tigers were going to be a tough out for any program this season. Their 4-1 record against the Southeastern Conference speaks for itself. The Tigers steamrolled past bitter rival the Ole Miss Rebels and then went 3-1 in what looked to be a brutal three-game slate against the SEC’s best teams, such as Auburn, Alabama, and Texas A&M.

What Lies Ahead

The Tigers host their first-ever AAC opponent on Thursday, December 29, against the South Florida Bulls. Three days later, on New Year’s Day, they go on the road to face the Tulane Green Wave.

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Meet Derrick Branch, the founder and chief wordsmith at Strike 7 Sports. With a sharp focus on the NFL and the NBA, Derrick's expertise in sports is matched only by his passion for sharing it with others. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communications from the prestigious University of Arizona Global. Let his insightful and engaging writing take you to the heart of the action.

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