The Memphis Tigers look to avoid a fourth straight loss when they face the Tulsa Golden Hurricane in a battle of American Athletic Conference squads on Sunday. The opening tip of this contest is scheduled for 3 p.m. ET at Donald W. Reynolds Center in Tulsa, Okla.
Memphis (9-8, 3-4 AAC) has struggled, losing three in a row after it had won three straight to start the 2022 calendar year. The Tigers are seventh in the AAC standings, sitting a game behind the UCF Golden Knights and Tulane Green Wave, who are tied for fifth place.
The Golden Hurricane are looking for their first conference win after dropping their first five AAC contests. Tulsa (6-10, 0-5) has won two of its last 10 games dating back to November, as it has had three games canceled or postponed in that span.
The college basketball lines have the Tigers as five-point favorites on the road, with the over/under set at 141½ points. If you’d rather bet online on the moneyline, you can get Memphis at -220, while Tulsa is listed at +180.
While Memphis coach Penny Hardaway has had some recruiting victories since becoming the Tigers’ head coach, he’s also dealing with the youth of his squad, which is also depleted due to injuries. Hardaway lashed out at the media following Thursday’s loss to the SMU Mustangs, showing the frustration he’s having with his team.
“If I had my roster like (SMU) did, then I feel like I can do whatever I want to do,” Hardaway said after Thursday’s loss. “I’m coaching really hard, my boys are playing really hard, I’m not embarrassed about nothing. We have four freshmen starting; y’all need to act like it.
“Act like we got 17- and 18- and 19-year-olds out here trying to learn how to play against 22-, 23- and 24-year-old guys. Come on, man. Stop disrespecting me, bro. Like, don’t do that. I work too bleeping hard. I work way too hard for that. Y’all write all these bull—- articles about me and all I do is work. We got young kids on the floor. They got young kids on the floor.”
Hardaway hasn’t had his leading scorer, senior DeAndre Williams, since a January 4 game against Tulsa. Williams is averaging 11.3 points and 5.3 rebounds but is dealing with back issues.
The team’s assist leader, Landers Nolley II, and backup guard Jayden Hardaway have also missed the last three games. Nolley averages 9.1 points and 3.1 assists per game. With the injuries, the Tigers started three freshmen, a sophomore transfer, and a junior against a Mustangs team that had five senior starters.
One of those freshmen, Emoni Bates, is second on the team in scoring at 10.8 points per game, though he’s struggled with his consistency. Bates had just six points in Thursday’s loss after scoring in double figures in the previous three contests.
Another freshman, center Jalen Duren, has also had his struggles. He’s averaging 10.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game while shooting 61.7% from the floor, but he’s been up and down with his scoring output as well.
The Golden Hurricane are winless in conference play, but they’ve been competitive in most of those losses. Prior to a 21-point loss to the Cincinnati Bearcats on Thursday, Tulsa’s average margin of defeat in AAC games was 3.7 points, including a three-point loss at Memphis on Jan. 4, showing the Golden Hurricane have had some of the rougher losses in college basketball.
The offensive attack for the Golden Hurricane is two-pronged, with Jeriah Horne and Sam Griffin both ranking in the top five in the conference in scoring. Horne is fourth at 17.3 points per game, while Griffin is fifth at 15.7 points.
Horne brings solid play on both ends, leading the Golden Hurricane with 7.4 rebounds per game while also averaging 1.5 steals and 0.9 blocks per game. In the first meeting with Memphis, he had 20 points and four steals, hitting 3-of-6 from beyond the arc.
Griffin had 25 points off the bench against the Tigers, though he’s scored just 31 points total in the three games since that contest.
Unfortunately, after those two, the next highest scorer is Darien Jackson, who is averaging 8.8 points per game. If Horne and Griffin aren’t on their games, Tulsa is going to have its troubles.
Memphis Snaps Streak
The Tigers have the talent to be a top team in the AAC, but they haven’t played like it lately. Will Hardaway’s postgame tirade produce a better on-court performance in this one? We think it will, as Memphis keeps Tulsa winless in conference play.
When doing your college basketball betting, take the Tigers to win and cover on the road.