UofM fans watch with excitement as Tigers win first NCAA tournament game in 8 years

Published: Mar. 17, 2022 at 5:41 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - It’s been a long-awaited entry back into March Madness for the Memphis Tigers, and Thursday’s game against Boise State did not disappoint fans.

The Tigers defeated the Broncos 64-53.

The haul to Portland, where the Tigers are playing, is a long one for fans, so it was expected that watch parties would be in several parts of the city.

At Brookhaven Pub & Grill off Poplar in East Memphis, a packed house of fans clad in blue and gray showed their support on Thursday.

“We pack the FedEx Forum. Why not pack Brookhaven?” said Dr. Coral Harris, UofM Class of ‘98.

“I’m just so happy,” said Piyush Bhakta, another UofM Alumnus. “I wish I could be in Portland right now. I looked for a flight, but I’m here.”

Pairing the game with St. Patrick’s Day special’s, the watch party was a big day for the folks at Brookhaven, as well.

“It’s different, especially since COVID has been lifted, the mandates at least. It’s nice,” said Brookhaven Assistant GM Cam Dorsey. “It’s good to see that we can open the garage doors, fill the place up, and just have a great time.”

8 years of a tournament drought led up to this moment, but Thursday the Tigers played like they belonged among the best teams in the country.

“I’m wondering, like, where was this all season?” Bhakta said. “It’s been eight years in the making, a long time coming. We got this!”

“I think it’s a good look for us and Memphis, all around, to have our very own culture and our team and we’re in the dance right now,” Lasharance Jeffris, UofM Class of ‘99, said.

Fans cheered for every basket made by the Tigers, cheering as if it were a buzzer-beater to end the game.

This level of atmosphere has been missed by fans and alumni.

“It’s just electric, seeing that Memphis is a basketball city, so it’s just wild being around here seeing all of this again,” echoed Jordan Tincher, a UofM Senior.

The win has these fans further backing head coach Penny Hardaway in what he’s been able to accomplish so far as leader of the program.

“I’m very happy for Memphis. I’m happy for Penny,” Harris said. “Being an alumni, it’s a great feeling. I’ve been watching Memphis basketball my whole life.”

With this crowd on Cloud9 after the win, some are thinking to the near future.

“If we keep playing like this, I need Final 4 tickets,” Tincher said.

Memphis will play again in Portland on Saturday against number 1 seed Gonzaga from Spokane, Washington.

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