Photo: Via Twitter @WMCActionNews5 @camragal

 

Memphis played hard, pushed the ball, and almost upset the college basketball landscape on Tuesday afternoon when they hosted the #8 Oklahoma Sooners. Oklahoma and their star Buddy Hield stayed focused, and picked up the win 84-78 behind Hield’s 30 points.

Hield carried the Sooners with his 30 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks. But Memphis fans, and the rest of the country, were formally introduced to Dedric Lawson. The freshman led the Tigers in points and rebounds. He finished with 22 points, 15 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 3 blocks.

The Tigers didn’t shoot the ball well but covered that up with quick tempo, ten steals and nine blocks. It’s also clear, they have their star. Dedric Lawson looked like the best player on the floor, and the most imposing presence on the floor. He looked like a sure bet NBA prospect.

While Memphis did lose the game, and have to shoot the ball better, there definitely was reason for Tiger fans to be a lot more optimistic than just a few hours ago. They ran with the #8 team in the country, after only one game to prepare, and was just a play or two away from pulling off the huge upset.

They gave the crowd of 12,000 a full 40 minutes of entertainment and had to gain confidence going forward. This was the highest level of competition on the Tigers schedule all year until they host Connecticut and Cincinnati in a three day span in early February.

Oklahoma had never beat Memphis before Tuesday. They will play McNeese State on Friday night while Memphis will look to bounce back against Grambling State on Thursday night.

My take…

I liked what I saw against Southern Miss. While I knew they were playing a team that was picked to finish last in Conference USA, they still put them away as a team fighting for an NCAA Tournament birth should. Memphis moved the ball well and played very unselfishly. While the Tigers have a ton of new faces, once again, including eight freshmen, they actually do have experience in the starting five. Two seniors, a junior, a sophomore and a freshmen started Tuesday afternoon for the Tigers against Oklahoma.

On Tuesday, that unselfishness and ball movement continued against the Sooners. Oklahoma was not able to dictate what the Tigers did. Memphis did what they wanted to do, push the ball, spread it around and shoot three’s. The shots just didn’t fall. Pushing the ball is going to be the key to the Tigers success this year. They have just one player over 6’9. In my opinion, coach Pastner’s coaching job got a little easier with the departure of Austin Nichols. There is no more having to decide what tempo to play and what lineups to juggle. The answer is simple…we have to play up-tempo. No question about it.

If Dedric Lawson continues to grow and improve, which he should do with his father on the Tigers bench, and the Tigers stick to the up-tempo, unselfish identity, then they will surprise the American Athletic Conference this year. The scary thing for opposing teams should be that Memphis shot really poorly but still scored 78 points and almost upset the #8 team in the country. If the shots start to fall with consistency…look out. The Memphis Tigers very well could be dancing in March.

 

Brandon Reid covers NCAAB and the Memphis Tigers for MyFantasySportsTalk.com, you can follow him on Twitter @New_Breid

 

Brandon ReidAmerican AthleticAnalysisBasketballBasketball RankingsBig 12NCAABNews and UpdatesRecent PostsAmerican Athletic Conference,Big 12,Buddy Hield,Dedric Lawson,Memphis Tigers,Oklahoma Sooners  Memphis played hard, pushed the ball, and almost upset the college basketball landscape on Tuesday afternoon when they hosted the #8 Oklahoma Sooners. Oklahoma and their star Buddy Hield stayed focused, and picked up the win 84-78 behind Hield's 30 points. Hield carried the Sooners with his 30 points, 8...Why go anywhere else for sports and entertainment?