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VOL. 133 | NO. 32 | Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Tigers Lose for Fifth Time in Six Games

By Don Wade

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Former Memphis Tiger Antonio Anderson hasn’t been shy about voicing his concerns over the current state of the men’s basketball program under coach Tubby Smith. But after the Tigers dropped their third straight game on Sunday, Feb. 11, a 68-64 loss to UCF at FedExForum, Smith was asked directly about Anderson’s recent comment that he might not be the right man for the job.

Anyone hoping that this moment might inspire a spark in Smith was left wanting. The 66-year-old coach responded to the suggestion he wasn’t the right fit by saying, “Well, maybe not. A lot of people believe that.”

Smith then added, “That’s always something that happens in this business. I’ve been there before. So we try to do the best job we can. We do it religiously. We do it consistently. It takes time.”

Memphis Tigers freshman David Nickelberry drives to the hoop Tuesday, Feb. 6, against Wichita State. The Tigers lost to conference foe UCF on Sunday, dropping into seventh place in the league. Nickelberry scored 4 points in 17 minutes of action against Central Florida. (Daily News File/Houston Cofield)

The loss, the Tigers’ fifth in the last six games, dropped the overall record to 14-11. The Tigers slid to 5-7 in the American Athletic Conference and are now tied with SMU for seventh-place.

Kyvon Davenport scored a career-best 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds. The Tigers were uncharacteristically accurate from the free-throw line hitting 17-of-19 attempts for 89.5 percent. They knocked down 5-of-16 from deep for 31.3 percent.

Memphis also more assists (14) than turnovers (10) against UCF, a rare achievement this season.

But the Tigers allowed UCF to shoot 56 percent in the first half and 52.9 percent for the game. The Knights, even without big man Tacko Fall, scored 42 points in the paint. UCF also connected on clutch 3-pointers down the stretch even though the Knights were just 6-of-16 for 37.5 percent for the game.

Smith expressed disappointment in the Tigers’ defense and ability to contain an opponent at the 3-point line when it mattered most: “Once again, the 3-point shot did us in.”

UCF had lost 14 straight games to the Tigers at FedExForum. Not only did the Knights break that streak, but they swept the season series with their 63-56 win at UCF earlier this season.

Anderson, by the way, was introduced at halftime following his induction into the M Club Hall of Fame on Saturday. Baseball player Chad Zurcher, women’s basketball player Connie Hibbler and football player John Bomar also were introduced.

The Tigers play at SMU at 8 p.m. Wednesday and at Tulane at 2 p.m. Saturday this week. Both games will be televised by ESPNU.

Track and Field Teams Set Records

Sophomore speedster Cera Chavez and the Tigers men’s 4x400 meter relay re-set their own school marks last weekend at Vanderbilt’s Music City Challenge.

Chavez ran a 7.37 in the women’s 60-meters final to win the event and break her own school record. She ran a 7.39 in the 60 meters to set her initial school record at the Dec. 2 Vanderbilt Opener.

The men’s 4x400 meter relay team re-set the school record in the event for the third time this indoor season – and all three times took place at a Vanderbilt meet. On Saturday, the relay of Davon DeMoss, Calvin Austin, Ryan Champlin and Jarred Pasley set the school mark with a time of 3:08.46, shedding over two seconds off the previous record of 3:10.53 set at the Jan. 20 Vanderbilt Invitational. The first 4x400 meter relay record set this season was 3:13.19 at the Dec. 2 Vanderbilt Opener.

The Tigers next travel to Cape Girardeau, Missouri, to compete in the Redhawks Open Feb. 16. The Southeast Missouri meet is the final competition before the 2018 American Athletic Conference Championships Feb. 23-24.

Tigers Women’s Basketball Team Drops Seventh in a Row

The women’s basketball team fell to 7-17 overall, 2-9 in conference, with its seventh straight defeat on Saturday, Feb. 10, 53-35 to the visiting SMU Mustangs.

Brea Elmore led Memphis with 11 points and six assists. Her 14.5 scoring average for the season ranks 13th in the league.

On the season, Memphis has a -11.5 scoring margin and has made 19.4 turnovers per game, compared to 14.9 by their opponents. They have a -3.6 rebounding deficit.

The Tigers are tied with Temple for last-place in the AAC standings. They next play at 6 p.m. Wednesday at East Carolina.

Baseball Team Opens Season Friday

Baseball returns to FedExPark at 4 p.m. Friday as the Tigers open the season vs. Western Kentucky. The series continues with games Saturday (2 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.). Memphis then plays at Ole Miss on Tuesday, Feb. 20.

Memphis was predicted to finish seventh out of nine teams this season in the preseason AAC coaches’ poll. The order of predicted finish for all teams: 1. Houston. 2. UConn. 3. UCF. 4. ECU. 5. USF. 6. Wichita State. 7. Memphis. 8. Tulane. 9. Cincinnati.

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