Memphis Tigers to face Alabama, Tennessee this week after losing streak
December 15, 2021
The Memphis Tigers have lost four consecutive times after only briefly climbing into the top 10. This was their longest losing streak in five years, lowlighted by a 74-72 home loss to Murray State. In what should be the team's last chances to make things right, they instead will face two of the top teams in the SEC in the sixth-ranked Crimson Tide on Tuesday and the No. 18 Volunteers on Saturday.
“You have to keep working. That's all we can do,” said coach Penny Hardaway after the loss to the Racers. “All I can do as a coach is to keep working. You've said every speech. You've said everything that needs to be said. As a leader, I just have to keep pushing us in the right direction.”
The Tigers, currently 5-4, are equipped with a squad that won 20 games and won the NIT last season. The arrival of star players Emoni Bates and Jalen Duren along with four-star prospect Josh Minott was supposed to propel the higher up, but the wind has not been in their favor for a little bit too long.
They were instead humiliated by Iowa State and then humbled again by Georgia, Ole Miss, and Murray State by a combined nine points. Now, winning the American Athletic Conference is almost their only way to have any NCAA Basketball tourney hopes.
“It's really straight positivity right now,” Memphis guard Tyler Harris said. “When we go on the court, we think we're going to win the game. And right now, when we see everybody in the locker room, we still think we can win out.”
While the Tigers were busy falling down, Baylor, currently 9-0, rose as the nation's fourth No. 1 team in the last four weeks. They will be putting their 15-game win streak on the line as they face Oregon on Saturday. The Bears took the throne after defeating the then-No. 6 Villanova last weekend. This is their first time reigning since a four-week run during the 2019-20 season.
The Bears managed to climb to the top spot despite losing their standout backcourt of Davion Mitchell, Jared Butler, and MaCio Teague as well as forward Mark Vital.
“The coaching staff has done a great job,” said Bears guard Adam Flagler, a member of last year's national title-winning team. “James (Akinjo) coming in as well, leading by example, working hard every day. The coaches are still here, and we just abide by everything that we can do, and go out there and work hard and the rest will take care of itself.”
Will the king be dethroned?
Baylor is currently among seven undefeated teams left in Division I basketball this season. Some of the other undefeatables are underdogs No. 11 Iowa State, who won just twice last season but can run its record to 11-0 against Southeastern Louisiana on Sunday, and No. 23 Colorado State, who for the second time in their history managed to defend their 10-0 in the game against Tulsa on Saturday.
No. 8 Arizona, currently 9-0, led by new coach Tommy Lloyd, will face Northern Colorado on Wednesday and Cal Baptist on Saturday. Tenth-ranked USC, currently 10-0, is set to face California-Irvine on Wednesday and Georgia Tech on Saturday. No. 19 LSU, currently 9-0, will play Northwestern State on Tuesday and Louisiana Tech on Saturday. San Francisco, current;y 10-0, will face Grand Canyon and Arizona State this week.