In what's become an annual preseason tune-up between Bluff City basketball teams, Memphis led the Buccaneers of CBU start to finish, cruising after halftime to a 92-63 victory. The game is the one and only formal preseason contest for the Tigers, who open the 2013-14 season next Thursday night at FedExForum against Austin Peay.
The game offered local fans their first look at several Tiger rookies, most notably a group of five freshmen all aspiring for spots in Josh Pastner's rotation. Austin Nichols (late of Briarcrest) started, scored nine points, and grabbed four rebounds in 16 minutes. Nick King (East High School) called to mind former swingman Will Barton, with 12 points, 10 rebounds, and three steals in 22 minutes on the floor. The Tigers' largest player — Dominic Woodson — converted all seven of his field-goal attempts, displaying a soft touch within 10 feet of the basket. Kuran Iverson scored nine points and grabbed six rebounds, bringing Tiger coach Josh Pastner virtually out of his shoes with joy on a put-back dunk in the second half. (Iverson will sit out next week's opener, having been suspended for violating an NCAA regulation on summer-league play.) Markel Crawford (Melrose) played 17 minutes, more than he's likely to see once the Tigers hit the meat of their schedule.
Another new face — senior Michael Dixon, a transfer from Missouri — led Memphis with 18 points and five assists, while fellow senior guard Geron Johnson added 11. Drew Hildreth led the Buccaneers with 18 points off the bench.
The Tigers shot 52 percent from the field for the game, but made only 58 percent of their free throws (15 for 26). They outrebounded the smaller Bucs, 47-34.
Check back Monday for more reflections from tonight's exhibition, and thoughts on the new season ahead.