VOL. 132 | NO. 23 | Wednesday, February 1, 2017
Tubby Smith and Tigers Not Fretting the Style Points
By Don Wade
In a challenging season with too few legitimate Division 1 players for the rotation and nobody tall enough to truly count as a rim protector, coach Tubby Smith would not call the Tigers’ 57-50 victory over East Carolina last weekend “ugly.” No matter that it was the perfect word – at least under other circumstances.
Instead, Smith settled for this: “Sometimes, wins don’t look good.”
You will notice that the American Athletic Conference is not to be confused with a fishing derby; there is no catch-and-release mandate if a win looks kinda small.
No, they all go into the “W” column and they all count. Memphis is 16-6, 6-3 in the AAC. No apologies necessary.
“We got a win,” said K.J. Lawson, who suffered through a horrific shooting game but came out the other side with 12 points and a career-best 19 rebounds. “That’s all that matters.”
Indeed, the Tigers survived shooting 30.3 percent from the floor and going 3 of 16 for 18.8 percent from long distance. They overcame scoring just 19 first-half points and trailing by three points at the break.
They averted what would have been a very bad home loss to an ECU team that is 10-12 and 2-7 in the league now.
And they won even though Dedric Lawson matched his season-low with just eight points. Since scoring 24 and 26 points in back-to-back games at Tulane and Tulsa, he has scored 11, 18, 14, 13 and 8 over his last five games. His scoring average has dropped to 19.0 points per game, but he still ranks second in the AAC in scoring.
Dedric Lawson is also tied with UCF’s Tacko Fall for the league rebounding lead at 10.1 boards per game. K.J. Lawson is third with 8.5 rebounds per game.
The Tigers play at USF in a 6 p.m. game carried by ESPNews on Thursday, Feb. 2.
Memphis Football Reportedly Getting 4-Star Offensive Tackle
Wednesday, Feb. 2, is national signing day and the Tigers reportedly will snag 4-star offensive tackle Obinna Eze. On Monday, both GoTigers247 and Rebels247 reported Eze would sign with Memphis, despite a late hard push by Ole Miss; Eze visited the Oxford campus last weekend.
Following those reports, Eze said on Twitter Monday he was “100 %” committed to Memphis.
According to GoTigers247, Eze not only would be the highest-rated member of the 2017 Memphis class, but the third-highest rated recruit in the program’s history. He has a composite ranking of 211 in the country and is 21st at his position and ninth in the state of Tennessee.
Eze attends Davidson Academy in Nashville and is 6-foot-6-plus and 279 pounds.
If the Eze commitment holds, it will be a huge get for offensive line coach Ryan Silverfield and head coach Mike Norvell. Multiple SEC teams were on Eze’s trail.
Tigers’ Coach Hits Victory Milestones
Women’s basketball coach Melissa McFerrin notched the 200th victory of her career and 150th at Memphis when the Tigers defeated UCF last Saturday.
Athletic director Tom Bowen recently gave McFerrin a contract extension.
The team carried an overall mark of 10-11 and a 3-5 record in the AAC into Tuesday night’s game at SMU.
Baseball Team Begins Practice for Spring Season
Last season, more than 70 percent of the Tigers’ innings pitched came from the arms of freshmen and sophomores. Coach Daron Schoenrock is hoping that all that on-the-job training will pay off this season.
“We threw a lot of freshmen on the mound; those guys have made a jump and we’ll see if they have made enough of a jump,” Schoenrock said. “We have to get better on the mound and I think we have.”
The 2017 Tigers’ pitching staff will be led by junior Connor Alexander and Colton Hatchcock. Each gave the team more than 80 innings of work in 2016.
The Tigers open their season at home, at FedExPark, vs. Tennessee in a three-game series Feb. 17-19.