Niels Giffey scored 24 points and added nine boards and a pair of blocks to lead No. 21 UConn to a 72-53 win over No. 19 Memphis in Memphis in the quarterfinals of the AAC tournament on Thursday night.
Giffey was 6-for-8 from beyond the arc — the majority of which were wide-open threes — and hit three in a row in the first half to help bust the game wide-open.
The inability of Memphis to locate Giffey was the most concerning aspect of a downright embarrassing performance by the Tigers. The AAC tournament is being held on their home floor, the FedEx Forum in Memphis. The arena was packed on Thursday night. And the Tigers “stunk, capital S T U N K”, as head coach Josh Pastner put it during an interview with ESPN. They shot 26.4% from the floor and just 5-for-18 from three.
Pastner was right, it seems.
In the grand scheme of things, the outcome of this game doesn’t mean all that much to either team. Memphis might fall a single seed line as a result. UConn isn’t climbing all that much considering we’re just four days removed from a 33-point loss at Louisville.
The concern, however, is that a beatdown like this has a hangover. The college basketball season is long. Memphis players have been practicing since the end of September. They’ve been traversing the country playing games since November. That will wear on anyone, especially an athlete, and a mentally and physically tired team isn’t going to bounce back as easily.
Pastner now has a week to figure out why is team sleep-walked through the inaugural AAC tournament in his home arena and how he can convince them to bring more energy and fire to an NCAA tournament game on a neutral court.
UConn will advance to face Cincinnati in the semifinals on Friday night.