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RECAP: Memphis basketball ends its skid with win over Wichita State

Memphis finally got the losing monkey off its back Saturday. (Image Credit: Memphis Athletics)
By Roman Cleary - February 3, 2024, 3:32 pm - 1 comments

It was still grimy, gritty and ugly at times, but the losing streak is over at last. And perhaps that’s all Memphis basketball needs to get back on track.

Memphis (16-6, 5-4 AAC) ended its four-game skid by beating Wichita State 65-63 inside FedExForum Saturday afternoon. This is the Tigers’ first win since Jan. 14, which was also—ironically enough—at Wichita State. Head coach Penny Hardaway is now 10-1 against the Shockers in his tenure. His team remains No. 7 in the AAC for the time being, but could move up depending on other league results this weekend.

The Tigers shot 38% from the field and 42% from 3-point range. They also outrebounded Wichita State 45-33, and racked up 17 offensive rebounds, 14 assists, 5 forced turnovers, 5 blocks and 2 steals. David Jones led the way with 26 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists while shooting 8-of-15 from the field and 4-of-8 from beyond the arc. Malcolm Dandridge (11) and Nae’Qwan Tomlin (10) also finished with double-figure points.

Wichita State (9-13, 1-8 AAC) shot 36% from the field and 39% from the 3-point line. It also collected 10 offensive rebounds, 10 assists, 10 points off turnovers, 9 steals and 7 blocks. Paul Mills’ team lost the game despite leading for nearly 38 minutes and not trailing until the game’s final minute. Colby Rogers led the Shockers with 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting.

Next up for Memphis is a trip to Philadelphia to face Temple on Thursday. The Owls—last place in the AAC—represent a Quad 4 opportunity for the Tigers. Hardaway has gone 5-1 against Temple throughout his tenure.

Here are some takeaways from Memphis’ much-needed win.

Turnovers—once again—derail the Tigers in the first half

Memphis looked more engaged than it has in weeks Saturday afternoon. It played with both effort and urgency, matching every inch of toughness Wichita State brought to FedExForum.

The first half was a defensive battle on both ends of the floor, with both the Tigers and Shockers shooting 30% from the floor. Memphis also made 33% of its 3-point tries in the opening period, and Wichita State was 27% from beyond the arc. But Hardaway’s team still trailed 30-24 at halftime.

The difference was—once again—turnovers. The Tigers gave the ball away nine times, while the Shockers only turned it over once. Mills’ team scored six points off Memphis’ giveaways, and never trailed in the game’s first 20 minutes. Jones and Jayden Hardaway combined for four turnovers, and five other players gave the ball up once.

The Tigers turned the ball over three more times in the second half, but they ultimately did a much better job with ball security down the stretch. Memphis’ improved discipline in the final period proved to be a deciding factor in Saturday’s game.

Jahvon Quinerly goes cold—for 38 minutes.

The Bob Cousy Award candidate has been magical at certain points this year.

Quinerly, the Tigers’ second-leading scorer, was the best player on the floor during Memphis’ win at Missouri on Nov. 10. He hit game-winning 3-pointers in back-to-back games against Tulsa and SMU. And he even scored 23 points on 5-of-6 perimeter shooting against Wichita State on Jan. 14.

But he’s had a tougher go of things lately. The Alabama transfer scored 12 points on 4-of-15 shooting at UAB, and 8 points on 3-of-11 shooting versus Rice on Wednesday. Quinerly then had his worst game of the season Saturday afternoon.

He shot 0-12 from the field and 0-of-3 from 3-point range in his first 31 minutes of action. But the ever-clutch Quinerly made his one and only field goal with 44 seconds left—a 3-pointer that gave Memphis a 63-62 lead. He wasn’t at his best Saturday, but he was good enough when it mattered.

David Jones wins the game for Memphis.

The Tigers and Shockers kept going back and forth after the intermission, but the former hit a lull about midway through the second half.

Penny Hardaway’s team spiraled out of control with empty possessions and bad turnovers, which allowed Wichita State to extend its 4-point lead to a 13-point advantage with a 9-0 run in just over three minutes. Mills’ club stretched the score to 54-40 with 7:55 on the clock. And that’s when Memphis—Jones to be specific—began storming back.

The St. John’s transfer started the Tigers’ comeback with two made free throws. After Memphis cut Wichita’s lead to 58-49, Jones went on a 9-0 run by hitting back-to-back 3-pointers followed by an old-fashioned 3-point play to tie the game with 2:23 left. The score remained knotted at 63 apiece with 16 seconds to play, and Memphis had the ball.

Quinerly had his shining moments against Tulsa and SMU last month. Jones decided it was his turn Saturday. The 6-foot-6 wing nailed a pullup jumper in the final two seconds, giving Memphis a possible season-saving victory.


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