SMU stomps Memphis Tigers, 103-62
Worst loss in Tigers' basketball history since 1947.
Terry Davis, Special to TSDMemphis.com | 3/6/2017, 11 a.m.
DALLAS, Texas — The Memphis Tigers ended the regular season facing the 14th-ranked SMU Mustangs. And how can this be said politely?
The Tigers got walloped. Final score, SMU 103, Memphis 62.
It was the worst loss the Tigers have suffered in 70 years.
“(SMU) played great. I have to give it to them they played great,” said Tigers Head Coach Tubby Smith. “They just out played us in every category. They spread the floor well like an NBA team.”
When asked what his team could have done to stop SMU, Smith was exasperated.
“What could you do? Nothing was working,” Smith vented. “We tried a 3-2 zone. We tried a 2-3 zone and full court pressure. Nothing was working. They were able to find the open man. They put on a clinic on how to pass the ball. They were so unselfish.”
Perimeter defense again hurt the Tigers to start the game. The Tigers quickly fell into a 17-6 hole, forcing Smith to call a timeout. The Tigers continue struggle defending the three-point shot — SMU knocked won 10 of them in the first half, closing on a 12-4 run to take a 48-24 lead into halftime.
“This is a poor performance as far as our defense is concerned,” Smith said.
Mustangs’ seniors Sterling Brown and Ben Moore almost outscored the Tigers in the first half as the duo finished the first half with 22 points. Brown had 14 points and Moore had 8 points. Brown also went 3-6 from the arc. Dedric Lawson was the Tigers’ leading scorer in the first half with 8 points. Markel Crawford only had two points in the half.
The defense in the second half was no better than in the first half for the Tigers. The Mustangs scored 55 points and shot 60.7 percent for the game. SMU finished the game with 14 three-point shots made compared to only four for the Tigers, who simply didn’t have an answer for the Mustangs’ outside shooting.
“I certainly want to congratulate SMU, Tim Jankowich has done an outstanding job,” Smith said. “I commend him on winning the American Conference Championship. I hated to be the team here when they clinched it, and not play as well.”
Keon Clergeot led the Tigers with a career-high 14 points. Lawson finished the game with 13 points. Lawson will be on the first team All-AAC, but it is not clear if he will be named the Player Of The Year for the conference, as was expected during the preseason.
With Tulane’s victory over Tulsa on Sunday, the Tigers will kick off the AAC tournament on Friday, March 10 against the University of Central Florida. The Tigers are 1-1 against UCF this season, mounting a dramatic victory on Jan. 22, but were manhandled by the Knights in the second meeting, losing 72-57.
The Tigers have lost six of their last seven games heading into the AAC tournament. The only way the Tigers will be able to make the NCAA tournament is to win the AAC tournament. As of last week, the Tigers were projected to be the No. 8 seed in the National Invitational Tournament (NIT).
“Coach told us to just leave this season behind us, all we have to worry about is the postseason,” Clergeot said of the SMU blowout.
“You take it as motivation,” added Jeremiah Martin, who tallied 12 points against SMU. “We are never going to get down on ourselves. It is a new season. You got to be ready to play every game going into postseason play. We had a couple of bad losses, but overall, we had a good season.”
NOTE: It was senior day for the Mustangs, among them former Memphis University School standout Jonathan Wilfong, son of former Tiger John Wilfong.