After winning three straight games the Memphis Tigers have now lost two in a row, with the most recent defeat being a 74-72 overtime loss to Tulsa Saturday night. Josh Pastner’s team has gone through issues when it comes to consistency throughout the season, and that was the case against the first-place Golden Hurricane. Despite leading by nine points with just over six minutes remaining, Memphis needed a Trahson Burrell layup in the final minute to force the extra session.
Just as bad as the result is the fact that sophomore forward Austin Nichols left the game early in the second half after re-injuring his right ankle. Nichols, who originally sprained the ankle in a loss to Temple in early February, did not return to the game Saturday.
And according to L. Jason Smith of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal, it’s possible that Memphis will be without Nichols for the remainder of the season.
That would be a big loss for Memphis, as Nichols has been an all-conference caliber player for the Tigers this season. Nichols, who was the American Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year last season, is averaging 13.3 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.4 blocks per game on the season. Without him the Tigers still have the likes of Shaq Goodwin and Calvin Godfrey to call upon in the front court, but neither has been as consistent as Nichols in 2014-15.
Memphis has two regular season games left to play, visiting both UConn and Cincinnati, before the conference tournament which begins March 12 in Hartford, Connecticut. Already in a spot where they’ll need the automatic bid to return to the NCAA tournament, Memphis’ odds get even steeper if Nichols is unable to return this season.