Cowboys lasso young Tigers in Orlando
The second real test of Penny Hardaway’s young coaching career, outside of FedEx Forum, was a little rougher than the first time around. The Tigers dropped their opening round AdvoCare Invitational game against Oklahoma State, 84-64, in Orlando.
With such a young team, with a true freshmen backcourt, it’s hard to know exactly what you’re going to get night-in and night-out, especially this early in the season. However, the way the Tigers played against LSU, in a true road test in Baton Rouge, gave Memphis fans a reason to be optimistic heading into the tournament in Orlando.
The game started out with a frantic pace, which benefited the Tigers for a little while. They were having success taking Oklahoma State out of rhythm with a full court 1-3-1 press. Penny kept fresh bodies in the game in the first ten minutes or so as well. Tyler Harris drained a three to give the Tigers their first lead of the game with 7:42 to go in the first half, but that lead lasted about ten seconds.
The Cowboys were playing more consistent, being patient with the ball, and hitting shots a higher rate than Memphis. The Cowboys were shooting 56% at halftime, while the Tigers were shooting 43%. Cowboys halftime lead was 41-31.
The Tigers didn’t shoot the ball any better in the second half and trailed 52-37 by the first media timeout. The Cowboys also hit the bonus with 13:01 to go in the second half. Tyler Harris didn’t score a point in the second half until the 6:28 mark, and that was via a free throw.
With about ten minutes left in the game, it was apparent the size and athleticism of the Cowboys was bothering the Tigers. Oklahoma State finished with ten blocked shots to Memphis’ zero. The Cowboys end up shooting 57% for the game, while the Tigers shot 36%. The Tigers also struggled to stop the 7th leading 3-point shooter in OSU history, Thomas Dziagwa, as he hit 4-of-6 from downtown, and they all seemed to be timely.
Penny took full responsibility for the loss after the game saying he failed to prepare his team. He also talked about not wanting to lean on his freshmen to carry the scoring load.
Memphis will now take on Canisius on Friday in the consolation bracket, while Oklahoma State moves on to face Villanova.