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VOL. 133 | NO. 22 | Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Mediocre Memphis No Match for UC; Grizzlies’ Mike Conley Out for Season

By Don Wade

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After a second double-digit loss to Cincinnati this season, the Memphis Tigers are in the mushy, mediocre middle of the American Athletic Conference.

The Bearcats were No. 9 in the AP poll at the time of their 62-48 victory over the Tigers Saturday at FedExForum. It was their 12th victory in a row and raised their overall record to 19-2, their league-leading conference mark to 8-0.

So there’s no point in comparing Memphis (13-8, 4-4) with Cincinnati. Because this season, there is no comparison. Back on Dec. 31, the Bearcats humiliated the Tigers 82-48.

Cincinnati is the second-best defensive team in the country, allowing just 56.2 point per game. But Memphis has done more than its share to help that per-game average, unable to reach 50 points in either game.

The Bearcats are about as bad a matchup as there is for Tubby Smith’s Tigers. Even good, fluid offenses are made to work to be competitive with Mick Cronin’s crew. The Tigers’ offense is anything but fluid and Memphis is a poor shooting team.

On Saturday, Memphis had three times as many turnovers (12) as assists (four). Their assist-to-turnover ratio is .90 with 261 assists and 291 turnovers on the season, which ranks 271st out of 351 teams.

How ineffective was this offense Saturday? No Memphis player had more than one assist while UC’s Cane Broome had six assists, and he didn’t even start.

Although the Tigers made a run in the second half and cut the lead to four, at 36-32, with 12 minutes to go, they had trailed by as many as 19 in the first haft and UC owned a 34-21 lead at halftime.

It was too much.

“You (put) yourself in such a deep hole,” Smith said. “You lose your legs getting out of it. But, again, I’m proud of how hard our guys competed.”

Jeremiah Martin led Memphis with 20 points and Kareem Brewton had 10 points off the bench. The Tigers shot just 31.1 percent from the floor and made just 3-of-17 threes for 17.6 percent. They converted 17-of-29 free throws for 58.6 percent.

For the season, Memphis is 43.7 percent from the field (230th nationally) and 28.6 percent from 3-point range (348th nationally). They are making 68.5 percent of their free throws (259th in the country).

Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley is officially out for the remainder of the season. (Daily News File/Houston Cofield)

Memphis has lost two straight and next will play at USF at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, a game that will be carried on ESPNews. The Tigers play at East Carolina at 1 p.m. Saturday, also on ESPNews.

CONLEY DONE FOR SEASON

Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley is officially out for the remainder of the season. The team announced Conley will have left heel surgery and that the procedure is being done to smooth a small bone protrusion that has continued to cause Conley pain/soreness.

Conley, 30, played in just 12 games this season. Last season he played in 69 of 82 games and in the 2015-16 season he played 56 games, and 70 games in the previous season. Early in his career, Conley played in 80 or more games three straight years. He has played in 74 or more games just once in the last six seasons.

Conley’s salary this season is $28.5 million. He will make $30.5 million next season, $32.5 million in 2019-20, and $34.5 million in 2020-21.

The Grizzlies also released medical updates on three other players: Chandler Parsons is still dealing with right knee soreness and considered “day-to-day.” JaMychal Green (right ankle sprain) is expected to return to action within a week and so is James Ennis (right calf strain).

CARDINALS HAVE FOUR OF TOP 100 PROSPECTS

MLB Pipeline released its Top 100 prospects and the St. Louis Cardinals have three players in the Top 50 and a fourth in the Top 100.

Right-handed pitcher Alex Reyes leads the way at No. 18, despite missing time because of Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow. Right-handed pitcher Jack Flaherty was No. 38, catcher Carson Kelly was No. 46 and power-hitting outfielder Tyler O’Neill was No. 94.

The Cardinals are pointing toward May for Reyes to make his return. Flaherty, 22, went 7-2 with a 2.74 earned run average last season over 15 starts for the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds. He held opponents to a .233 batting average.

Kelly was called up to the Cardinals in June and had trouble adjusting to part-time duty as Yadier Molina’s backup, hitting just .174 with a .217 slugging average.

O’Neill, acquired last season from the Seattle Mariners, hit 31 home runs between Triple-A Tacoma and Memphis while batting .246 with 151 strikeouts.

The Cardinals are in need of power and O’Neill will be given a good shot in spring training to make the club as an extra outfielder.

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