Memphis, No. 23 in the nation, had its eight-point first half lead cut to one with more than seven minutes remaining. However, the Tigers would go on a 10-0 run to enter halftime with a 34-22 lead.
In the second half, Memphis’ 3-point shooting heated up as the Tigers cruised to an 80-58 victory over South Florida in American Athletic Conference action on Sunday afternoon at home.
The Tigers entered Sunday as the second-worst 3-point shooting team in the American. South Florida was the only team to have a lower 3-point field goal percentage. Despite its poor shooting from beyond the arc up to this point in the season, Memphis ended the game 10-for-22 from deep, made more impressive by its 1-of-7 3-point shooting to begin the afternoon. Ten threes is a season-high for Memphis.
The long-range shooting clinic began at the end of the first half when Joe Jackson and Chris Crawford each connected from deep to stretch the lead to double digits. In the second half began with a Jackson three. Three minutes later Geron Johnson stroked a triple, the first of six straight made 3-pointers for Memphis. By the sixth one, Memphis was up 28.
The 3-point shooting numbers jump out of the box score, especially since Memphis was 30 percent as a team entering the game. But the Tigers defense, zone and full-court, forced 15 turnovers and sparked the 10-0 run to end the first half, which created separation. Another noticeable stat from Sunday: Memphis assisted on 23 of its 25 field goals.
With the win Memphis remains in the top three in the American with back-to-back road games up next on the conference schedule. The road trip begins against UCF and finishes at SMU on Saturday.
Illinois suffered another blow in what has already turned out to be a brutal season.
Mike Thorne is expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing his meniscus. He reportedly underwent surgery on Monday to repair the injury.
Thorne, a transfer from Charlotte, was starting at center for the Illini and doing a good job of it as well. He was averaging 13.4 points and 8.4 boards, although Illinois has started off the season 3-4.
The reason for that slow start has mainly been those injuries. Tracy Abrams is already out for the season after tearing his achilles, and the Illini training room looked like a M.A.S.H. unit. Kendrick Nunn just returned two games ago from surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. LeRon Black is still getting back to speed after offseason knee surgery. Jaylon Tate is back after dislocating a finger. Jalen Coleman-Lands was slowed by a stress fracture.
John Groce entered this season on the hot seat, and dealing with all of these injuries certainly isn’t helping his cause.
We talk about a lot of stuff of the podcast today, mainly because a lot of stuff happened since we last spoke with you all.
For starters, we need to discuss the ‘realness’ of Syracuse and Xavier. Are they both truly top 15 teams, or do they just have top 15 resumes? We also dive into Chris Mack’s epic troll-job of Dayton at the Advocare Invitational final.
Other topics we touched on: Whether or not Scott is ever going to apologize to Wayne Selden, Wichita State’s tournament hopes, Texas A&M and whether we’d take Ben Simmons, Kris Dunn or Denzel Valentine today.
As always, you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes right here. It’s the quickest way to get access on your cell phone or tablet.