Freshmen shine as 12th ranked Tigers take out Tennessee Tech to open college basketball
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The wraps come off Penny Hardaway’s latest No. 1 recruiting class Tuesday night as the Memphis Tigers, ranked 12th in the AP Pre-Season Poll, host Tennessee Tech at FedExForum in the opener of the college basketball season.
The Tigers theme this year is ‘Tunnel Vision.’
They don’t want to get sidetracked from their own hype with the NIT Championship banner raised, it’s time to get down to business with the new season. Of Course, everyone wants to see what this new class looks like in action against real competition, and the two freshman stars, Emoni Bates, and Jalen Duren, don’t disappoint.
But the Tigers also return reliable veterans from last year’s NIT champs players like junior DeAndre Williams, who’s expected to be a steadying hand to the young guns. He has 12 points on six of seven shooting. Veteran Landers Nolley, the pre-season all AAC first-teamer, now comes off the bench, but he can still put the ball in the basket.
Bates only knows one thing and that’s how to score. Bates leads the Tigers with 17 on 6-9 shooting, plus four rebounds and four assists.. The University of Memphis possesses a stellar bench from a coaching standpoint with Larry Brown, Rasheed Wallace, and Cody Toppert helping Hardaway call the shots. Always good defensively in the Hardaway era, the Tigers force 15 turnovers, and know what to do when they get them.
Duren the Lob from Alex Lomax. Fifteen points, six rebounds, five blocked shots for Duren. These kids are going to have fun playing together and we’re going to have fun watching them. Tigers go on to win it 89-65. After the game, Hardaway had these comments about the smooth play of his prized freshmen.
“That’s how poised they were and you see it all the time in practice,” said Hardaway. “But your very first college game there was no nervous energy, if there was, they didn’t show it. And they stepped up to the plate, they both played 30 minutes, the most minutes on the team tonight. I don’t know if it’s going to be a nightly thing, but they both stepped up to the challenge tonight. So, what shocked me is the calmness that both freshmen have in them.”
The Tigers’ next game is against North Carolina Central Saturday at FedExForum.
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