Memphis is playing their best basketball of the season right now, and they just picked up some even better news: star freshman Adonis Thomas, who had been out for two months with an ankle injury, has been fully cleared by team doctors and will play Thursday in the Conference USA Tournament.
Thomas, who had been averaging 9.7 ppg as a starter at the three, had been doing conditioning drills in practice since last Tuesday.
The question now is whether or not this ends up being a good thing for the Tigers. Over the course of the last three months, this group had gelled. They’ve gone from a team where their star point guard (Joe Jackson) was considering transferring midseason, their senior leader (Wesley Witherspoon) was getting benched for attitude and performance and their fanbase was calling for the ouster of their head coach.
Memphis won the CUSA by two games. Their three losses in the league came by a combined six points. Those are the only three games they have lost since a two-hour post-game meeting that followed an embarrassing loss at Georgetown, and at this point, I don’t think I’m the only one that believes Memphis is the most underrated team in the country heading into the postseason.
Some of that turnaround involved Thomas. Some of it came when he was out. Personally, I don’t think it is going to be a huge issues. Thomas can score, but he’s not a guy that needs a ton of shots when he plays. He is willing and able to help in other areas. And, for what its worth, I don’t think adding a future pro back into the mix is ever really a bad thing.
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.
Monmouth used a 17-2 run in the final minutes to beat Rider on Friday night, a win that will keep the Hawks within striking distance of the kind of an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament should they fall in the MAAC tourney.
The run was capped by star point guard Justin Robinson, who buried this three with three seconds left to put Monmouth up for good, 79-78:
Allonzo Trier scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half and Parker Jackson-Cartwright scored 16 points in his second career start as No. 17 Arizona knocked off UCLA, 81-75, in Tucson on Friday night.
UCLA was up by as much as 11 points in the first half and took a ten point lead into half time, but in the second half, the Bruins were eventually done in by foul trouble and the stronger front line of the Wildcats.
Ryan Anderson and Kaleb Tarczewski were dominant down the stretch. The duo combined to score 12 of the last 23 point for the Wildcats, including the bucket that put the Wildcats ahead for the first time since early in the first half. Off of a missed free throw, UCLA’s Thomas Welsh battled with Tarczewski for the rebound, but when Welsh finally seemed to gain control of the loose ball, Anderson knocked it out of his hands and bullied through Jonah Bolden for a layup.
All told, those two combined for 20 points and 27 boards, seven of which were offensive. They also managed to foul out both Welsh and Tony Parker, although some of the calls that went against UCLA down the stretch were questionable.
The win keeps Arizona within a game of first place Oregon in the Pac-12 standings and tied for second with No. 23 USC, who will be visiting the McKale Center on Sunday night.