Memphis Locks In March-Level Play Early Then Holds Off Cinncinatti
DeAndre Williams, Kendric Davis and the Defense Shine in 76-73 Home Win, Take Over 2nd Place In AAC Play
Penny Hardaway has fought shorthanded most of this up and down season for Memphis Basketball (22-7, 12-4). Last week, a frustration-fueled broken hand injury to the hand of third scoring option Keonte Kennedy after the Houston loss, meant that the Tigers would continue to have a limited roster through season’s end. But, the recent return of some other previously injured players seemed to have gelled the squad together and it showed during Sunday’s 76-73 victory over a very talented Bearcats. The 1st Half Sunday was the Memphis only turned the ball over 8 times. It’s very hard to beat Memphis when they take care of the basketball.
A game that seemed far out of reach early in the 2nd Half, became a nail-biter late- as Cinncinatti (19-11, 10-7) had multiple opportunities to tie the game in the closing seconds. Credit to the Bearcats, who did not go away… getting back in the ballgame with a flurry of 3’s. The Bearcats dropped 10 three-pointers to get back into the game late and outrebounded Memphis 39-29. Memphis- who looked unbeatable earlier in the contest, suddenly missed that third scoring option that the Senior Kennedy normally brings. It’s not really that Memphis looked bad, they just seemed to take their foot off the gas a touch and their lead evaporated slowly and then almost altogether.
How can you not love DeAndre Williams? The 5th Year Senior forward had 21 points, 7 Rebounds, a massive 5 steals, 3 big blocks and maybe most importantly Zero turnovers. The Tigers are simply a much better team, every moment he is on the court. The future NBA prospect brings energy, talent and a high-level of wisdom and experience that pulls the team through offensive lulls.
His huge rebound of a missed 3-point attempt by Davis with 3:55 left was a microcosm of what he means to this Memphis team. Davis had to heave up a panic three at the shot clock buzzer and Williams was the only Tiger around the rim. He sealed off 3 Bearcats, leaped out of bounds, caught the board and called a Timeout. He always seems to be making the big play that you can’t see in the box score. Absolutely the emotional leader of the team, Williams and the Tigers are almost unbeatable in games where he does not foul out. His block in the final minute of the game was another emphatic highlight of his day.
Memphis is 1-week away from a showdown with the current #1 team in the Nation, Houston, who beat a Kendric Davis-less Tigers team by 8 in Texas. Should be a big one!
Nashville Live Sports
All The Hype Around Sports in Nashville, Memphis and Beyond
Photos by JB Brookman, Seniority Photography Nashville