Tigers begin quest for AAC Tournament crown

(Memphis Tigers)
Published: Mar. 9, 2023 at 2:31 PM CST
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FORT WORTH, Texas (WMC) - The Memphis Tigers begin postseason play Friday night in the quarterfinals of the 2023 American Athletic Conference Championship in Fort Worth, Texas.

By virtue of earning a first-round bye, the second-seeded Tigers will play at 6 p.m. Friday on ESPNU against the winner of the first-round matchup between No. 7 UCF and No. 10 SMU.

This is the highest seed the Tigers have been since joining the AAC in 2013-14. They were the No. 3 seed in each of the previous two seasons.

Memphis enters postseason play winners of 11 of its last 14 games, with the stretch including two losses against AAC regular-season champion Houston while ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the country, and another by one point in overtime at home to Tulane.

The Tigers have won 20-plus games for the sixth-straight season, including all five under head coach Penny Hardaway. The 23 victories are the most in his five seasons.

The Tigers won 13 AAC games during the regular season, which tied last season as their most since joining the conference prior to the 2013-14 campaign.

Memphis split two meetings with UCF during the regular season, with each winning on its home court, and the Tigers swept SMU in two meetings by an average of 17.0 points.

Historically in tournament play, the Tigers bested UCF in the 2012 C-USA semifinals and in the AAC quarterfinals in 2019, 2021 and 2022. UCF got the better of the Tigers in the 2017 AAC quarterfinals in Hartford, Conn., 84-54.

The Tigers and SMU have played once in AAC Tournament action, a 70-63 Memphis win in the 2022 semifinals against a Kendric Davis-led Mustang squad.

With a victory Friday, Memphis would advance to the semifinals of the AAC Tournament Saturday at 4 p.m. on ESPN2.

It would be the fifth-straight season in which the tournament has been played that they’ve reached the semifinals.

The championship game is scheduled for 2:15 p.m. Sunday on ESPN, and NCAA Tournament bids are awarded later Sunday evening during CBS’s Selection Show starting at 5 p.m.

A trip to the NCAA Tournament would be Memphis’ second straight after earning a #9 seed in 2022.

Last season’s trip was the program’s first in eight seasons since 2013-14.

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