April 16, 2024

Tigers Survive, 77-75, After Scare from Vanderbilt

- Photo Credits - Madison Penke / Madison Penke Photography

Memphis, TN – In a rollercoaster match that saw the lead change hands 12 times, the No. 23 Memphis Tigers pulled off an impressive comeback from an eight-point deficit. On Saturday afternoon, they secured a nail-biting 77-75 victory over the Vanderbilt Commodores on home turf at FedExForum.

The Tigers were trailing for over half the game, unable to find an offensive rhythm in the face of Vanderbilt’s aggressive defense. It was a match of wits and determination, with Memphis’ composure under pressure proving key in their eventual victory.

Hero of the Hour: David Jones

Memphis’ David Jones emerged as the standout player of the match, contributing a game-high 28 points, 21 of which came in the second half. He was a key figure in the Tigers’ comeback, his aggressive play and sharp shooting helping to turn the tide in Memphis’ favor.

Jones’ near double-double, coupled with Jahvon Quinerly‘s 13 points and team-high four assists, served as the backbone of the Tigers’ offensive efforts. 

The Three-Point Lifeline

Struggling to find their feet in the first half, Memphis relied heavily on three-pointers to stay in touch with Vanderbilt. Six out of nine of their total first-half baskets came from beyond the arc, a testament to the team’s resilience under pressure. 

Vanderbilt’s Ezra Manjon and Tasos Kamateros were relentless, accumulating a combined 24 points in the first half. However, Memphis’ three-point prowess ensured they trailed by just one point at half-time.

The Second Half: A Tale of Runs

The second half saw Memphis hit the ground running, with a fastbreak pair of scores off steals and a three-pointer from Jones sparking a 9-0 run. This put the Tigers in control at 44-36.

Vanderbilt rallied, ripping off runs of 15-3 and 9-0 to put Memphis 62-54 down with just over eight minutes of play remaining. 

However, the Tigers roared back with a 12-0 run, initiated by Jones’ eight points and a spectacular alley-oop to Malcolm Dandridge, to regain the lead.

The Final Countdown

With just 13.3 seconds left, Memphis led 75-73. The game devolved into a free-throw shooting contest, with Memphis converting 26 out of 35 attempts, a vital factor in their eventual victory.

Vanderbilt’s final attempt at a three-pointer fell short, allowing Memphis to sigh relief as they secured a 77-75 victory.

Key Statistics and Postgame Notes

Despite the victory, Memphis’ shooting statistics reflect a tough game. They finished with just 21-of-55 from the field (38.2%) and 9-of-25 from long range (36.0%). 

This game marked the fourth time that Memphis used the starting lineup of Jahvon Quinerly, David Jones, Jaykwon Walton, Nicholas Jourdain, and Malcolm Dandridge this season. With this win, they maintain a perfect record with this lineup.

This season, the Tigers’ seventh win against a Power Five program improves their record to 13-2 against power conference opponents over the past two seasons. They also moved to 5-1 against the SEC with this victory.

Looking Ahead

The Tigers now have a well-deserved week off before returning to FedExForum on December 30th to conclude the nonconference portion of the schedule against Austin Peay. The team will carry the momentum from this thrilling win into the match, which is scheduled for a 6 p.m. start on ESPN+.

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