Memphis Tigers return to NCAA tournament for first time in eight years

UofM Tigers basketball -- Lester Quinones
UofM Tigers basketball -- Lester Quinones(UofM Athletics)
Published: Mar. 13, 2022 at 7:23 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Memphis Tigers flooded with mixed emotions after they heard their name called on Selection Sunday. The team felt defeated after falling to Houston, 71-53, in the AAC Championship game. But they also felt excited that there’s more to play for as it snapped an eight-year NCAA tournament drought and return to the big dance.

When the team heard their name called, it was a dream for Alex Lomax and Tyler Harris, two Memphis kids.

“This is my fourth year here,” Lomax said. “We weren’t able to make it happen and just to be able to make it happen this year is a pretty special feeling and we want to attack that and give it our all.”

“I came back, I wanted to be part of this team and make it to the NCAA tournament,” said Harris. “We didn’t get the seed we wanted, but it’s still a great feeling that we’re going to get the opportunity to go down and play in the NCAA tournament.”

When Penny Hardaway was hired at his Alma Mater, his goal was to bring Memphis basketball back to the nationally prominent program it’s been historically. Four years in and the Memphis hoops icon succeeded.

“When I too the job, it was not at its highest form,” Hardaway said. “The fans weren’t coming to games and I felt like if the opportunity came about I could do something about that, initially” He added he thought he could recruit kids to help Memphis get back to the NCAA tournament and do it with someone like Alex Lomax who he’s coached for the last ten years.

“I know where this came from and where it’s going,” Hardaway said. “And it’s headed in the right direction.”

The Tigers are a 9-seed in the West Region. Memphis will play 8-seed Boise State in the first round in Portland. They’re in the same bracket as the number one overall seed, Gonzaga. The Tigers’ first-round game is Thursday at 12:45 p.m.

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