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VOL. 132 | NO. 53 | Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Grizz Finally Win, Parsons Done for Season, NCAA South Regional Looks Spectacular

By Don Wade

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The Memphis Grizzlies broke their five-game losing streak, 40-year-old Vince Carter had a historic offensive night, and we learned that Chandler Parsons had suffered a partial tear of the meniscus in his left knee (the right knee has endured two surgeries) and is done for the season.

Vince Carter scored a season-high 24 points on 8-for-8 shooting to help the Grizzlies break a five-game losing streak and defeat Milwaukee 113-93 at FedExForum.

(AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

Yes, Monday, March 13, was an eventful evening over at FedExForum.

First, Parsons. The 28-year-old forward signed a four-year, $94 million contract with the Grizzlies as a free agent this past off-season. Optimism about how his outside shooting could change the Grizzlies’ offense eventually gave way to skepticism about his health, which eventually gave way to booing and frustration as Parsons looked like a mere shell of the player Memphis believed it was getting.

Parsons’ last game, against the Los Angeles Clippers last week, featured him wearing a bulky brace on his left knee. His season will end with him averaging 6.2 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.6 assists while shooting 26.9 percent from 3-point range. Contrast this with his career averages: 13.6 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.9 assists while shooting 37.3 percent from long distance.

General manager Chris Wallace called Persons’ latest setback “tough” and added, “We know he will continue to work tirelessly to return to the court with his teammates and contribute.”

The end of Parsons’ season coincided with Carter entering the starting lineup against Milwaukee Monday night. Carter went 8-for-8 from the floor, 6-for-6 from behind the arc, and scored a season-best 24 points in the 113-93 victory over the Bucks. He became the oldest player in NBA history at 40 years and 46 days to attempt and make eight field goals in a game, passing Utah’s John Stockton (40 years, 16 days).

“I don’t think I’ll be playing when I’m 40,” center Marc Gasol said. “I’ll be done. Maybe at the YMCA or something, but not the NBA.”

Gasol, who has come back from foot surgery to have an All-Star season, also had advice for Parsons as he begins yet another injury rehab.

“Take it one day at a time,” he said. “Focus on that day and everything you have to do and don’t worry about tomorrow. That was my mindset going through my injury and it worked out pretty well.”

Tigers’ Rykhoek Will Not Return

A graduate transfer from Baylor who had suffered a litany of injuries, 6-foot-11 Chad Rykhoek did not play his first college basketball game until he was a senior this season at the University of Memphis.

He injured his ankle in a December game this season. Now, he will apply for his sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA but will look to continue his career elsewhere. Rykhoek announced he would be transferring on social media on Monday, just three days after the Tigers’ season ended with a lopsided loss in the first round of the American Athletic Conference Tournament.

Rykhoek averaged 4.9 points and 2.3 rebounds in just over 14 minutes per game this season. He participated in the Tigers’ Senior Night, which raised the question of whether he would seek to continue his career at Memphis.

In what he called his “Twitter press conference,” Rykhoek thanked God for “allowing me to play some college basketball this year” and said of his teammates here, “I appreciate you all for welcoming me and rocking with me this year.”

NCAA South Regional in Memphis Could be Legendary

The Sweet 16 and Elite Eight at FedExForum could be full of blue-bloods. North Carolina, Kentucky and UCLA could potentially claim three of the four spots here.

If all the seeding held, No. 1 North Carolina would face No. 4 Butler in the Sweet 16 while No. 2 Kentucky would square off against No. 3 UCLA.

Memphis Tigers fans may take the approach of rooting for anybody but Wildcats coach John Calipari, but the coaches are not the reason to watch. Roy Williams’ Tar Heels might have the best player in the bunch in AAC Player of the Year Justin Jackson. Bruins point guard Lonzo Ball has some throwback in him, averaging 7.7 assists to go with 14.8 points per game, but there’s nothing old or slow about his game. He’s a highlight show.

Kentucky’s cast of one-and-dones is headlined by Malik Monk, who is capable of striking a match to the nets on the FedExForum rims.

The Sweet 16 games are on Friday March 24 and the Elite Eight game is Sunday March 26. For NCAA Tournament ticket information, go to http://www.ncaa.com/tickets/basketball-men/d1.

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