Memphis Tigers Freshman guard Tyler Harris knocked down his second three pointer of the night just before the first media timeout to cut the LSU Tigers lead to just one point. It was a sign of things to come as each time 23rd ranked LSU stretched out its lead, Memphis who represents the American Athletic Conference fought back..
“They came out and hit us first, but we took the punch and got back into the game”, said Memphis first-year Head Coach Penny Hardaway.
Harris, the reigning Tennessee high school Mr. Basketball, knocked down a barrage of deep threes from beyond NBA range early on in his Memphis Tigers first true road test. In doing so, Harris proved what many who saw him average more than 30 points per game as a high school senior in Memphis already knew, and that is he belongs on the court with anyone. His three first half treys helped halt early LSU runs and provided a strong response from a Memphis team starting three guards, including two freshman with the other being two-time Tennessee Mr. Basketball Alex Lomax who finished with 4 points, 4 assists, on 1-9 shooting.
Memphis guard Tyler Harris celebrates knocking one of his game-high six three pointers. Mark Weber, The Commercial Appeal
Meanwhile, when LSU stretched a first half lead to seven at 36-29, Memphis responded with a 7-0 run capped by five consecutive points from senior guard Jeremiah Martin. A 48-39 LSU halftime lead was quickly erased early in the second half as once again Tyler Harris knocked down his fourth and fifth three-pointers of the night to bring Memphis to with a 50-49 margin. Harris who was piping hot at the point, then followed with a through-the-legs stepback three over a 6-foot-11 Kavell Bigby-Williams that pushed Memphis to a 52-50 lead. Harris,
However, Harris who scored 11 points early in the second half, would go scoreless the rest of the night as what was once a two point Memphis lead was erased after an ill-advised backcourt pass by Jeremiah Martin led to a goaltending. What followed was two more untimely fouls 30 feet away from the basket by senior forward Kyvon Davenport, which stymied Memphis’ momentum. A corner three point basket by LSU guard Skylar Mays led to LSU regaining a lead 57-54 they would hold onto the remainder of the contest.
All-SEC guard Tremont Waters, who went scoreless in the first half, carved up Memphis’ penetration defense in the second half, as he finished with 8 points in the final 20 minutes of play. More importantly Waters’ 8 assists led to several dunks by the aforementioned senior transfer Bigby-Williams who was a perfect 7-of-7 on the night, and at least three posters jams by menacing LSU freshman big man Emmitt Williams, who finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds, including four offensive boards.
LSU’s Emmitt Williams (top) dunks over Memphis forward Isaiah Maurice (bottom) Mark Weber, The Commercial Appeal
6-foot-10 LSU freshman star Naz Reid, who entered the game as their leading scorer at 23 points per game, was held in check for the most part finishing with just 11 points and 5 rebounds.
Memphis inability to defend the paint and keep LSU off of the glass ultimately was their undoing, as LSU 26-12 points in the paint advantage at halftime continued during the second half.
According to Coach Penny Hardaway his young Tigers will be focusing on some things moving forward that could have changed the outcome of this game. “Rebounding, rebounding, rebounding, basically boxing out. We have to be relentless on the glass, and we have have to box out”.
Seniors Martin and Davenport were the only Memphis players other than Harris to score in double figures, as they finished with 15 and 10 points respectively, though they also combined for 9 of the teams 14 turnovers.
LSU now improves to 3-0 on the season with their next game coming at home this Friday against Louisiana Tech, while Memphis falls to 1-1 with their next game coming up on Saturday November 17 at home against Yale.