I knew this would be a tough one for the Blazers. Memphis (16-6, 6-2) shot 60 % from the field in the second half and 15-of-16 from the free throw line (93.8%) as they defeated the Blazers (18-4, 6-2) Wednesday Night at the Fed Ex Forum in Memphis. The attendance was 16,518. The Blazers played tough with the Tigers and led 67-66 with 4:32 remaining. but after two Wesley Witherspoon free throws with 3:40 left put the Tigers up 71-69, the Tigers outscored the Blazers 14-6 to close out the game. The Tigers were 10-of-10 from the line in the last 1:04 of the game.
The Tigers were 25-of-28 from the line for the game while the Blazers were outstanding as well, 13-of-14. George Drake was six-of-six and Aaron Johnson was four-of-four. That was a major discrepancy in free throw shots attempted. Didn't watch the game because I was watching Vandy-Ms. State. Craft or Joltin' if you have any comments on officiating, let me know.
Four Blazers scored in double figures led by Eli Millsap with 18. Millsap was one rebound short of a double-double with nine. Jamarr Sanders added 16 and was four-of-seven from trifecta. Jamarr also had eight boards. The Blazers were six-of-17 from trifecta as a team. That still needs to get better. Howard Crawford had 13, Johnson had 12 and Drake 10. Johnson was 0-of-five from trifecta and Drake was 0-of-3.
Witherspoon, the 6'9", 210 soph, led Memphis with 29 points. Elliot Williams, the 6'5" soph, added 25.
UAB is now tied with Memphis for second place in C-USA behind league leaders UTEP (7-1, 16-5) and Tulsa (7-1, 18-4).
To me all four look like tournament teams at this point. All four are worthy. Memphis has a tough loss to SMU last Sat which hurts their resume, though SMU is a decent team. UAB still has a lot of work left. The league deserves some respect this year. I think those four teams are good along with Marshall and Houston. It's a much better league this year. The NCAA Selection Committee should take a close look at the league. There are six quality teams.
Need to get the defense back in order, particularly on the interior. Kenneth Cooper and Howard Crawford are physical players so they should be able to get it done. If they get in foul trouble, Cameron Moore and Ovie Soko need to step up. They're not as big so they're really going to have to dig in down low.
Blazers play at Rice Sat at 2 p.m. No TV. Then they come back home Feb. 13, Saturday week, to play Marshall at seven. No TV for that game either. They need to get back on track.