Memphis had its 18-game win streak snapped Tuesday against Xavier. The Tigers now have to start from scratch. That all begins Saturday at Central Florida.
“We’ve got to take this loss and turn it into a positive,” Memphis head coach Josh Pastner told John Martin of the Commercial-Appeal on Wednesday. “We’ve gotta regroup, refocus, and recharge and be ready to go on Saturday and be at a high, high level.”
To do so, Pastner has upped the intensity in practice, in preparation for Saturday’s game.
“We just needed a fighter’s mentality-type of practice. We needed that one today,” Pastner told the CA following Thursday’s practice.
Memphis was not tough inside in Tuesday’s 64-62 loss to Xavier. The Tigers were outrebounded 41-32 on the boards, and the Musketeers doubled the Tigers’ offensive rebounds.
“Losing is contagious, but winning is, also,” added junior Geron Johnson. “Our team — we know how to win games, and we had the feeling of what it’s like to lose games. I don’t want this to happen again. The next winning streak starts Saturday.”
Memphis is in the tournament, but the Tigers should focus on proving they belong in the field of 68.
The Tigers are 24-4 and undefeated in Conference-USA play. However, Memphis had that disastrous weekend in the Bahamas losing to VCU and Minnesota in the Battle 4 Atlantis. Memphis has yet to beat a ranked opponent, dropping its only game against the top-25 to Louisville.
Their top wins include Tennessee, who is sitting on the bubble, and Harvard, who lead the Ivy League and could receive the automatic bid.
Memphis has a misleading record and shaky resume. The win streak is important to get spirits up after being hand the first loss since mid-December. But more importantly, the Tigers have three regular season games and a C-USA tournament to prove they have the toughness to make some noise this March.