Friday, November 10, 2017

Alabama 82, Tigers 70

Posted By on Fri, Nov 10, 2017 at 8:06 PM

There's irony in the Memphis Tigers opening their 2017-18 basketball season Friday night in the Veterans Classic at Annapolis, Maryland. When you look at Tiger coach Tubby Smith's roster, you count precisely two players who can be considered "veterans." And between them, guard Jeremiah Martin and forward Jimario Rivers have three years of experience at the Division I level.

It showed.
click to enlarge veterans_classic_2017.jpg

Memphis survived an unsightly first half — missing all six of its three-point attempts and nine of 21 free throws — and trailed by only two points (38-36) after 20 minutes. But the Tigers were unable to capitalize on 20 fouls called against a Crimson Tide team playing without two starters (forward Braxton Key and heralded freshman Collin Sexton, the latter suspended one game for involvement in the FBI's ongoing investigation of bribery and fraud in college basketball). A Rivers dunk tied the game at 40 with just over two minutes played in the second half, but Alabama seized control over the game's last 18 minutes.

Three Tide three-pointers over a two-minute stretch gave Alabama a 55-47 lead with 12:30 to play and Memphis would not close the margin. Dazon Ingram led the Tide with 20 points, four teammates joining him in double figures on the scoreboard. Alabama hit 11 three pointers, while the Tigers didn't hit their first until midway through the second half and finished the game a dreadful two of 17 from long distance.

Kyvon Davenport (one of five junior-college transfers to see action for Memphis) led the Tigers with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Kareem Brewton (like Davenport, a 2016-17 JUCO All-America) added 13 points and led Memphis with four assists. Martin, Rivers, and freshman Jamal Johnson added 10 points each for the Tigers.

The Tigers return to Memphis for their home opener next Tuesday when Little Rock visits FedExForum. The only way to gain veteran status is by playing games. Consider one now on the resume for a rookie-laden Memphis team.

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