The University of Memphis basketball team ran into a road block in the Xavier University Musketeers. The Tigers had their 18 game winning streak snapped in a 62-20 lost in Cincinnati, OH. The Tigers did not play with intensity in the first half of the Xavier game and they looked as if they were just going through the motions. At one point, the Tigers were down by as many as 13 points. Memphis is not a good team when they get away from what they do best, balance scoring, up tempo offense and competing in open spaces.
The Tigers only have a few games left in the regular season before heading off to the Conference USA post season tournament in Tulsa, OK from March 12-16. Memphis has already clinched the regular season championship and will receive a first round bye.
Here are 4 reasons why the loss to Xavier will benefit the Tigers:
Sense of urgency is restored.
The Tigers were just beginning to game national respect, being ranked in national polls and off everyone’s NCAA tournament bubble projection. With the loss, the talk will shift to how low the Tigers will be seeded. The critics of Memphis were waiting for a slip up by the team so they could slam the team and the conference (see CBS Sports’ Jeff Goodman).
Learning you can’t win on talent alone.
In most games, the Tigers are the more talented team on the court. In the Xavier game, the Tigers were the more talented team. In the past few games Adonis Thomas, Chris Crawford and Geron Johnson were playing their A-game, neither competed on that level in the loss. Talent alone will not beat an averaged team.
The pressure of a streak is gone.
The Tigers could not have picked a worst time to shoot bricks from the free throw line. The team shot 33 percent for the game making only 6 of 18 attempts in the Xavier loss. Tarik Black and DJ Stephens combined for 1-12 in free throw attempts against Xavier. Free throw shooting had been a respectful 70 percent this season. The Tigers gave a bad defensive effort and allowed Xavier to get 16 offensive rebounds.
Getting back to the basics.
With the national attention turning against the Tigers, this should give the team the edge they had after the team left the Bahamas. The intensity that was missing for 40 minutes in some early season games should be given from the opening tip to the ending horn. Good team work always trumps great individual efforts. Getting back to shooting the season’s average in free throws is a must. If the Tigers are able to right the ship in these areas they should be able to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament in March.