The Tigers' late-season swoon continued tonight in Greenville, North Carolina, as the U of dropped its first game — ever — to the Pirates of ECU. To the list of former Tiger "automatics" that have become roadblocks to the postseason (Marshall, SMU, Rice) we now add East Carolina.
The Pirates opened up a game that had been tied (28-28) at halftime, finding their range from long distance to go on a 13-1 run and take a commanding 60-47 lead with just over four minutes to play. Jamar Abrams, Jontae Sherrod, and Brock Young combined to hit seven of 15 three-point attempts on Senior Night in Greenville. The Tigers were four for 16 from beyond the three-point line and again committed more turnovers (15) than they dished out assists (13). Antonio Barton was the only Memphis player to reach double figures in scoring (15). His older brother Will scored eight points and grabbed eight rebounds, but missed nine of his 12 shots. Junior forward Wesley Witherspoon, while in uniform, never came off the bench for the Tigers.
The loss is a crippling blow to the Tigers' chances at a Conference USA regular season title (they were officially eliminated when UAB beat Southern Miss tonight), as well as their chances for an at-large berth in the NCAA tournament. Memphis will host lowly Tulane Saturday at FedExForum in an attempt to stop a skid that has featured three losses in four games. The Tigers' nine losses equal their total on Selection Sunday a year ago, a figure that sent them to the NIT.