July 15, 2024

 Tigers Ride Wave To Championship Against Houston. 

Memphis {25-8} would decimate Tulane {20-11},94-54, in the semifinals to move on to the conference championship matchup, with Houston, on Sunday. The forty-point win against Tulane would be the second-largest postseason victory for Memphis with their largest coming, in 1986, when the Tigers would defeat South Carolina, 1986,  100-59. The Tigers are now winners of five of their six games and coming into the championship hungry to cut down the nets. We will briefly look at the Tulane game, why this win was personal for Memphis, some things Penny talked about during post-game, and a preview of the championship game. 

Tigers Ride Wave 

Memphis would roll the wave with a complete blowout. Deandre Williams and Kendric Davis would lead the Tigers for the second consecutive tournament game. Williams and Davis would become the first Memphis duo to score 30 points in a conference game since 1971, when Larry Finch and Don Holcomb would score 34 and 31 points on Jan 8th. In the rout of the Wave, the bench would play a key role by assisting with 24 points, and of the 12 Tigers who were in action, 11 scored, 10 had a rebound, and nine had an assist as this was a complete win by Memphis. With the win, this will make the third time Memphis has made the American Championship game with losses to Uconn, 72-58, in 2016 and last season’s 71-53 loss to Houston. 

This Was Personal

Following their 90-89 loss, on February 4th, to Tulane, the Tigers wanted one more chance at the Green Wave. That day was special to Penny and the program. He would speak about this in his opening statement when he said the following about the win – 

  “Couldn’t be more proud of these guys. Locked in. Tulane beat us two times during the season. And had an opportunity to come into our building on a big day. I never forget that day. That was the day my head coach was being honored and Lorenzen Wright’s jersey was being retired. And stained in my brain and on my heart from that day, man, we let our city down. We got to come back and fight. And they swept us during the regular season. We came back ready today and just proud of the performance. Couldn’t have dreamt of this type of a win-up. Because they are a really good team, but we put a good game plan together. And man, it was beautiful.” – Penny Hardaway

Guard Kendric Davis would speak on this postgame as well when he said, “We said the same thing. UCF talks crazy. Coach pulled out the tweet of what Tulane said to us. And we Memphis, man, we didn’t take that lightly. And we wanted to show up today.” – Kendric Davis

This win was about redemption for the program for Penny and his team. The way this team performed against Tulane going into the Houston game bodes well for Tiger fans, 

What Else Did Penny Say? 

In his time at Memphis, Penny has brought some talented players into Memphis. Out of all these talented players, two have become quite the dynamic duo. We would speak to Penny in the post-game presser and talk to him about guards Kendric Davis and Deandre Williams. . He would say the following –

“Coach, you have compiled some very impressive rosters while being at Memphis. I know you look at each player as your own, just like your sons. What has KD and DeAndre mean to you on a personal level?” – Wes Pruett 

  “Yeah. They are like sons to me because I know their stories. I know them inside out. I know it’s bigger than basketball. When you know their stories and you know how hard they are fighting to try to feed their families, try to make it out of a situation, and try to make to their dreams, I have been in their shoes. So our relationships are really strong because I can be on the level of a basketball player and still be their coach and understand from the adversity that they have gone through, I went through that same type of adversity. So that connected us from the very beginning with KD and with DeAndre. Both great guys that have gone through adversity like me that are looking to live a dream through basketball, and we’re all connected together.” – Penny Hardaway

What’s Next?

Memphis will advance to take on top-ranked Houston. These two teams just collided a week ago and this looks to be another instant classic. As mentioned in our preview article of that game, Memphis will be looking to defeat a top-ranked team for the first time in program history. Memphis and Houston have had some intense battles in their past matchups. Memphis and Houston will tip at 2:15 pm and can be watched on ESPN, 

Further reading

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