Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tigers Fall to Wichita State in Season Opener

Posted By on Tue, Nov 18, 2014 at 3:36 PM

The Tigers confirmed some early-season worries this afternoon in their season-opener in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Facing the 11th-ranked Wichita State Shockers (a team that didn't lose last season until the NCAA tournament), Memphis trailed throughout, shot the ball woefully, and suffered poor guard play from a collection of rookies that combined for two assists and 13 turnovers in 40 minutes of basketball. (Tiger forwards combined for 11 more turnovers. And two assists.) Final score: Wichita State 71, Memphis 56.

Ron Baker led the Shockers with 21 points, while Fred VanVleet added 15 and Darius Carter 12. Nick King paced the Tigers with 16 points while Austin Nichols and Avery Woodson (one of those rookie guards) added 10 each.

The loss is the first to open a Tiger season since the 2003-04 campaign, though it came against the highest-ranked opening opponent since Memphis faced 8th-ranked Louisville to start the 1975-76 season.

Both teams shot like it was their first game of the season, the Tigers missing ten of their first twelve attempts from the field and the Shockers not separating until the final minute of the first half when the Wichita State lead was stretched to seven (29-22). The Shockers pulled away over a two-minute stretch early in the second half, extending a 35-29 lead to 44-29 on a jump shot by Tekele Cotton.

Memphis shot 40 percent from the field and missed seven of nine attempts from three-point range. King led the Tigers with seven rebounds and Nichols blocked six shots. Limited by foul trouble, junior forward Shaq Goodwin was held to four points and six rebounds.

The Tigers return to FedExForum next Monday night when they'll host Prairie View A & M at 7 p.m.

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