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March 16, 2012
Tigers' Season Sputters to a Halt in Loss to St. Louis
It was a somber, bitter mood in the dejected locker room of the University of Memphis Tigers basketball team (26-9), as they ended their once-promising season in losing fashion in the second round of the NCAA tournament to the Saint Louis Bilikens (26-7), 61-54 in Columbus, Ohio.
The 8th-seeded Tigers were favored in the game, but routinely looked frustrated against the Billikens' defense, which came into the contest as one of the top scoring defenses in the country.
"Offensively, our shots weren't falling, said Adonis Thomas, freshman guard/forward for the Tigers. "We got frustrated, but we should have keep being positive and kept shooting the ball. We got down after a few of our shots weren't falling."
Thomas was one of the few Tigers that actually stepped up and talked after the game. Most of the players had towels over their heads, others openly refused to talk. But the one person everyone wanted to hear from, sophomore guard Will Barton because many think he will forego his final two years of eligibility and go pro, spoke and probably took the loss to the Billikens the hardest.
"Today was my fault man," Barton said tearfully. "I let the team down, the coaches down, the city of Memphis down. Nobody wanted this game more than I did - I probably wanted too much. I didn't rebound like I normally do, didn't score points like I usually do. I made bad decisions shooting dumb shots. I just don't know what to say right now - I'm never going to forget this loss."
The Tigers had SLU on the ropes, up by eight points midway through the second half. But just when one would think Memphis was going to make a run and open up the game like in the previous seven contests, Saint Louis head coach Rick Majerus called timely timeouts.
"When you only have four assists for the whole game, you're not going to win a lot of games," said Josh Pastner, head coach for the Tigers. "We reverted back to some of our old habits by not making the extra pass. You know my thing is the open man is the go-to man. But you've got to give credit to Saint Louis and Rick for winning the game."
Will Barton led the Tigers with 16 points. Senior Wesley Witherspoon finished his Tigers career just four points shy of becoming the 48th Tiger in school history to score 1,000 career points.