VOL. 132 | NO. 43 | Wednesday, March 1, 2017
Tigers’ Losing Streak at Four and Counting
By Don Wade
As the season winds down, Tubby Smith’s first Tigers team is making the wrong kind of history. Memphis has lost four straight games, a stretch of losing not endured since the 2004-2005 season.
Tubby Smith’s first season in Memphis is turning sour as the Tigers ride a four-game losing streak on the cusp of the annual American Athletic Conference tournament.
(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)
The latest setback was a 72-71 loss to Houston on Sunday, Feb. 26, at FedExForum. It dropped the Tigers to 8-8 in American Athletic Conference play and 18-11 overall. The Tigers finish out the home schedule with an 8 p.m. game Thursday, March 2, vs. Tulane. Then on Saturday, March 4, they end the regular season at SMU.
The loss to Houston came despite a 20-point effort from K.J. Lawson, Jeremiah Martin scoring 16 points, and Dedric Lawson’s 19th double-double of the season and 36th of his career (12 points, 13 rebounds).
Memphis trailed by 13 points in the first half against the Cougars. The score was tied 71-71 with 28.1 seconds remaining in the game. That’s when Jimario Rivers fouled Damyean Dotson (game-high 31 points) with 3.3 seconds left. Dotson hit one of two free throws and a three-game losing streak became a four-game losing streak when, with 1.5 seconds to play, the Tigers botched the play Smith drew up during a timeout.
K.J. Lawson was supposed to throw the ball near the basket to Dedric Lawson or Rivers. K.J. didn’t like what he saw inside and tossed the ball to Martin, who had his jump shot blocked.
“You’ve got to throw it where you are told to throw it,” Smith said.
As for the players, Dedric Lawson couldn’t recall ever having lost four basketball games in a row. At any level. K.J. Lawson said: “I treat every loss like somebody died. I’m a sore loser.”
Heartbreaking losses can produce acute pain. But with the Tigers on a four-game skid, their pain is now chronic.
Baseball Team Sweeps
It was a happier weekend at FedExPark, where the Tigers swept a three-games series from Illinois State and rallied from an 11-run deficit on Saturday to win 12-11.
This was the largest comeback for Memphis under coach Daron Schoenrock. The Tigers were in an 11-0 hole going to the bottom of the third inning. They put up two runs in the third and then struck for seven runs in the fifth. Single runs in the eighth and ninth innings pushed the game into extra innings.
Colton Neel (MUS) then worked a full-count, bases-loaded walk to force in the winning run in the 11th inning. The Tigers got the sweep with a 3-1 win Sunday after starting the series with a 5-4 victory on Friday.
Junior right-hander Connor Alexander (Tipton-Rosemark Academy) struck out a career-best nine batters Sunday while allowing three hits and one walk over seven innings. For his work, he was named to the AAC Weekly Honor Roll.
Memphis is now 4-2 and will be home for a three-game series this weekend vs. Georgia Southern. The Tigers were to play at Ole Miss on Tuesday, Feb. 28.
Softball Team Loses Four in Tournament
No. 22 Kentucky defeated Memphis 12-0 and FAU shut the Tigers out 5-0 in a pair of games on the last day of the FAU Tournament in Boca Raton, Florida. The Tigers went 0-4 on the weekend and fell to 4-7 overall.
Memphis is slated to play five games in a tournament at the softball complex on South Campus this weekend. The Tigers will play Belmont and Arkansas Pine-Bluff Friday night, Wright State and Louisiana Tech on Saturday, and Tennessee State Sunday afternoon.
Senior outfielder Lindsay Crowdus is leading the team in hitting with a .469 batting average and .688 slugging percentage.