The Memphis Tigers went into the game clearly the favorite to beat Christian Brothers University, but no doubt had lingering memories of last season when their exhibition turned out to be a battle. Josh Pastner was yelling to the top of his lungs for his players to speed up on offense and get back on defense.
Much like last year, there were times when CBU appeared to have the home team's number. Unlike last season, the Tigers tonight were able to make runs and take a huge lead over Christian Brothers, winning the game by the final score of 92-63.
In the very beginning, Memphis couldn't buy a basket as they were shooting horribly from the field. Free throws were an issue for the Tigers. As a team, the Tigers went 15-of-26 from the line on the evening.
Unnecessary turnovers made the game closer than it should have been in the first half. The Tigers limited their turnovers to 12 while forcing the Pirates to turn the ball over 19 times. Early on, though, CBU broke the press with ease, forcing the Tigers to hurry back on defense.
Memphis also was forcing shot after shot in the early going. This team has got to learn that shot selection is crucial, especially when they face the type of high-level competition that the schedule will present them.
Memphis led the Pirates 47-35 at halftime. Memphis went 18-of-34 from the field and 10-of-16 from the line. Michael Dixon led the way for the Memphis in the first half with nine points on the way to a team-high 18 points, shooting 7-of-10 from the field. Geron Johnson and Nick King each had seven points before halftime.
No Tigers stood out in this game as all of them were made multiple mistakes on both ends of the ball. Miscommunication on defensive rotations could be blamed for the Bucs' wide open shots but the Tigers caught some breaks, as Christian Brothers was getting a lot of open opportunities but not making the shots.
Meanwhile, the Tigers shot just 20 percent (3-of-15) from the three-point line and 57.7 percent from the free throw line. Memphis head coach Josh Pastner feels that his team is good at free throw shooting and shooting from long range, but they still need work on shot selection and knocking down shots.
"We've got to make threes," Pastner emphasized after the game. "We've got to get our three point shots off of the paint touch, off of penetration, off of post catch. We don't need to force the three-point shot off the dribbles. We are a better three-point shooting team than that, we've just got to make them."
The underclassmen for the Tigers seemed to outshine the seniors as King and Dominic Woodson both put up good numbers. King finished with a double-double on 12 points and 10 rebounds. Woodson was perfect from the field and finished with 14 points.
After the game, Woodson acknowledged that he has a long way to go, but is happy with how far he has come since the summer.
"I am getting there but I need to continue to lose weight and get in better shape," Woodson admitted. "Working out with Frank is going to help that (weight loss) a lot."
Since graduate senior David Pellom went down with a left knee injury, keeping him out of action for five weeks, Pastner has called on the other big men to step up as a group.
"He just told us we got to rebound the ball and pick up David Pellom slack because David Pellom was a good defender," Woodson explained.
Free throw shooting was simply unacceptable for the Tigers. From Pastner to his players, no one was happy with how poorly they shot from the line. King just dropped his head when he was asked to talk about the team's problems with free throwing shooting on the night.
"We've been working on free throws every day," King insisted. "What people don't see behind the scenes is when they don't fall, we get frustrated. We don't keep a leveled mind. We just keep missing them. We work on free throws every day. Our free throw shooting at practice is just so good; we've got to keep a leveled head."
The Tigers have less than a week to iron out the kinks in their game with the season-opener against Austin Peay looming next Thursday night.
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