The Memphis Grizzlies have learned to listen to floor general Mike Conley. They depend on him to lead the team.
Lately, the Grizz's starting point guard has taken his ability to do that up to another level.
Conley rallied Memphis in a late fourth quarter takeover to breeze pass the Phoenix Suns on Friday (Jan. 10) at FedExForum with a 104-99 victory. Fresh off of a 30-point performance on Tuesday in an overtime loss against the San Antonio Spurs, he tallied a career-tying 31 points along with seven assists. And he didn't commit a single turnover.
R-o-l-l-e-r ... c-o-a-s-t-e-r!
That's the only way to describe the University of Memphis Tigers' basketball season thus far. Up and down and up and down.
A crushing defeat early to Oklahoma State followed by a redeeming win over the same OSU team to capture the Old Spice Classic. A dominant road victory over the University of Southern Florida in Memphis' conference opener overshadowed by an embarrassing home loss to Cincinnati less than a week later.
Headed into their game Thursday night (Jan. 9) at Louisville, many thought the roller coaster might be headed for its biggest drop this year. Memphis hadn't beaten a ranked conference opponent on the road since 2005. With the defending national champion Louisville sitting at No. 12, it looked as if that trend might continue.
San Antonio Spurs beat the Memphis Grizzlies for the seventh straight time Tuesday night, escaping the FedExForum with a 110-108 overtime victory that could have been measured in inches.
While the Spurs have been beating the Grizz with regularity, this latest confrontation was in doubt right up to the time Mike Conley's three-point attempt from 29 feet bounced off the front of the rim as time expired.
Conley played big in a game in which Memphis erased a 16-point deficit, including a 10-point hole entering the fourth quarter. Conley led the Grizzlies with 30 points, 11 coming down the stretch in the final frame. His last-play drive to the basket yielded a game-tying bucket that sent the game into overtime.
Remember at the beginning of the basketball season when many analysts were saying that Memphis had one of the top, if not the best, backcourts in all of college basketball?
With four senior guards – Joe Jackson, Chris Crawford, Geron Johnson, and Michael Dixon Jr. – it was easy to see why many people might have thought that.
But being projected as the best and playing like the best can be two totally different things. The best guard quartet isn't usually associated with 14-for-49 shooting in a game. That's what Memphis' guards did Saturday (Jan. 4) in their game against Cincinnati's Bearcats.
The University of Memphis Tigers got a first-hand view of big-time women's basketball going up against the top-ranked Huskies of Connecticut and absorbing a 90-49 thumping at the FedExForum on Saturday.
Memphis battled for a short while, up by three with six minutes elapsed. Then UConn switched into another gear and proved why this year's team is No. 1 and is building – once again – on a championship pedigree.
The Huskies – now sporting a 15-0 record – held the Tigers without a basket for 9 minutes and 8 seconds during one stretch of the second half.
Jemele Hill, an ESPN columnist and co-host of ESPN2's "Numbers Never Lie," said that while Time magazine uses its Person of the Year award to recognize impact, she wouldn't use "Sports Person of the Year" to recognize high performers such as Serena Williams or Peyton Manning. Instead, she would nominate the n-word for 2013's most impactful performer, Hill said during a recent appearance on ESPN's "The Sports Reporters: Parting Shot."
"My 'Sports Person of the Year' wouldn't be a person at all, but a word that is both reviled and revered," she said. "In 2013 sports took on the n-word."
Two hard-nosed teams with tough defensive outlooks met at FedExForum for a pre-New Year's Eve game. For the Chicago Bulls and the Memphis Grizzlies, winning is built on a hone-in-on defense foundation.
Similar stats aside, it was the Bulls' defense that prevailed and their offense that propelled Chicago past Memphis (91-95) on Monday night (Dec. 30).
The Grizzlies (13-17) wanted a year-end win going into 2014. Chicago (12-17) was trying to bounce back after suffering a home loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday.