Duren sets AAC tournament record in Tigers 85-69 win over UCF
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Jalen Duren may only be 18 years old, but he’s playing grown man basketball. Duren went off for 21 points and 20 rebounds in his first postseason game. He also set the AAC tournament record for most rebounds and put on a makeshift dunk contest inside Dickies Arena as the Tigers knocked off UCF 85-69 to advance to the semifinals.
It was clear Duren was locked in. It showed in his play, but also when he was asked about his performance he simply said he’s happy they got the win, but time to move on to the next game. Tigers head coach Penny Hardaway, on the other hand, knew this type of performance was coming.
“He’s been saying he’s going to do that. And that’s just his greatness,” Hardaway said. “He’s a guy that wants to do whatever it takes to win and I can tell when he’s locked in. He was really locked in. Because you know he wants to get to that, all these guys do, but JD reclassifying and coming into the team and then it’s not going as well early, he could’ve folded and said I’m not going to go as hard,” he added. “But he’s gotten better and better every week so getting 21 rebounds and 20 points to me is just saying he’s getting better every game and that just shows his greatness.”
Lester Quinones had another big postseason moment scoring a career high 22 points, hitting 5-of-8 from beyond the arc. He credited his teammates for finding him in open space.
“I feel like I’m in a great space and with this being crunch time in the season the only thing I’m focused on is winning the game,” Quinones said. “Whether it’s my night or not that’s what I feel like is our biggest weapon on this team it could be anybody’s night coming out and tonight was my night.”
Up next the Tigers meet SMU in the semifinals. The Mustangs are the only team that swept Memphis during the regular season. According to Hardaway, he loves the matchup because he knows it’s going to be competitive and bring everything out of him and his players.
If the Tigers win they will play in the conference championship game, Sunday. Tip off for the semifinals, Saturday at 4pm.
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