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Memphis Basketball Loses Fourth Straight, Falling to Murray State

After Memphis basketball lost to Iowa State by 19, alarm bells started to ring. One loss isn’t the end of the world, but the way they lost was alarming. Although it was followed up with a loss to Georgia, that game was close. In addition, if anyone knows a little something about upsets, it’s Georgia head coach Tom Crean. With two more losses to Ole Miss, and Friday night to Murray State, there is no way around what is going on with Penny Hardaway’s team.

Memphis is on the brink of .500 and plays two ranked teams in No. 9 Alabama and No. 13 Tennessee for their next two games.

It was a tale of two halves for Memphis. They carried a 14-point lead into halftime and things were looking rosy for the Tigers. In the second half, however, Murray State erased the deficit in under nine minutes, thanks to a 27-12 run to open the half. Memphis is far ahead of Murray State on paper but was embarrassed on their own home court. We’re only 10 games into the season, and it’s already time to wonder if it’s time for Memphis to find a new head coach.

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Credit: Sam Greenwood/ Getty Images

Memphis Basketball Upset by Murray State

Free Throws Bite Memphis

After Memphis was dropped by Ole Miss last Saturday, I mentioned how poor free throw shooting would plague this team for the season and cause them to lose a few games they’d otherwise win. On Friday night against the Racers of Murray State, it once again made the difference in the result. While Murray State wasn’t great themselves from the line, the Tigers let them off the hook. Memphis went to the lines 22 total times but failed to capitalize too often from the stripe.

Memphis shot 14-22 (63.6%) from the line in a game that they lost by two points. On Friday, Lester Quinones, Earl Timberlake and DeAndre Williams were the main culprits. The trio combined to shoot just 6-12 from the line. Not only does it seem like half of the team is struggling to shoot free throws on any given night, but it’s also seemingly different players every game too. With Alabama and Tennessee on deck, due to free throws alone, Memphis will be pressed to find a way to win.

Emoni Bates Flat Again

Everybody has their fair share of bad games. For Emoni Bates, however, this is starting to become a concerning trend. Bates was the third overall high school prospect in ESPN’s Top 100 for the Class of 2021. Since the third game of the season, against St. Louis University, Bates has looked more like a three or four-star recruit. Over the past six games, Bates has scored in double figures just twice. Over that span, he is averaging under nine points a game. For a player that was regarded as a “dangerous contested shot maker” coming out of high school, he seems to have a tough time making open shots as well.

While Bates did struggle with foul trouble in this game, that wasn’t the reason he shot poorly. Bates was just 3-7 from the field and 1-4 from downtown. Over the last six games, Bates has shot 30.5% from the field and 16.6% from deep. For a player that was supposed to be a transcendent talent and one of the leaders on this team, he’s arguably been a liability. He needs to figure his game out fast, as Memphis’ tournament hopes are already starting to fade away.

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