If someone wanted to make excuses for the University of Memphis Tigers, they could say, "Well, it was a road game." Sure it was, but coming off last Saturday's 94-64 victory over Tulsa, a more worthy adversary, Memphis' most recent victory was far from an inspiring performance.
On the road in Dallas, the Tigers came away with a very unimpressive win (60-52) against a middle of the road C-USA opponent – Southern Methodist University – on Wednesday night.
SMU's Mustangs only had the lead once in the game and it was during the first few minutes of the contest. Yet, the Tigers allowed the Mustangs to hang around late in the game.
Memphis scored their last field goal with just over four minutes remaining in the game, and if it wasn't for their free throw shooting down the stretch this game could have had a different outcome.
Adonis Thomas, who has been hit or miss this season, registered a near double-double with 14 points and 9 rebounds. Geron Johnson added 19 points and 7 rebounds. The two scored over half of Memphis' baskets and led the way in this easily forgotten game.
However, a win is a win, and the Tigers improved to 19-3 and 8-0 in C-USA. But if Memphis thinks a 29.8 percent shooting percentage is going to allow them to stay undefeated in the conference, then they have another thing coming.
When they head to Hattiesburg this Saturday (Feb. 9), Memphis could be in for a rude awakening against the Golden Eagles. Still, the Tigers always play to their competition and it wouldn't be shocking to see them beat USM by double digits.
Unfortunately for Memphis, the eyes that are watching take into account all of these lackluster wins. And even though the Tigers are one game from a 20-win season, the selection committees see through the smoke and mirrors.
This campaign seems to be following the same path as seasons past – 20-plus victories with no quality wins equals a No. 8 seed, at best, in the NCAA tournament. A bid to the big dance is always a good thing, but for a team that carries lofty expectations an eigth seed and an early exit are not what the True Blue Nation wants to see.
And rightfully so, especially considering the talent that abounds on Memphis' roster. Just one game removed from a dominating 30-point win over Tulsa, this last non-noteworthy win is another shot of reality that Tiger fans have been forced to take over the last few years.
With their conference title hopes on the line this weekend, it will definitely be an meaningful game.
Which Tiger team will show up?