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Memphis Basketball Solidifies NCAA Tournament Resume with Win Over Houston

Coming into Sunday’s matchup, the Memphis Tigers were entrenched in the middle of the bubble. Although they were one of the “final four in,” a few bid stealers in conference tournaments could take their spot. Although they have plenty of potential, their NCAA Tournament resume has been far from impressive this season.

With a resounding 75-61 victory over No. 14 Houston, the Tigers have completed a season sweep of the Cougars. Although a poor performance in the AAC Tournament could put them right back in the middle of the bubble, as of now, Memphis seems to have all but solidified a bid for this year’s NCAA Tournament.

Memphis basketball
Credit: Sam Greenwood/ Getty Images

Memphis Basketball Shoots the Lights Out vs Houston

Memphis’ Depth Proves Pivotal

The Tigers have arguably the most talented roster in the conference. Even without freshman forward Emoni Bates, the Tigers have plenty of playmakers and scorers. Unfortunately for Memphis, they have often had to rely on one or two players to “take over” to win games. Against Houston, the Tigers’ spread-out attack gave Houston little chance to compete.

Only three players scored in double-figures for Memphis. Tyler Harris came off the bench to contribute 15 points while starters Landers Nolley II and Lester Quinones both pitched in 11 of their own. Not only did all the others step up, but they were efficient as well. The three other starters for Memphis all pitched in eight points with the other four bench players pitching in an additional 14 points. If Memphis basketball can find efficient play from here on out, they may be a dark horse for a run in the NCAA Tournament.

Turnovers an Issue for Houston

Houston may not be the most disciplined team in the country, but they rarely turn the ball over enough to make an impact on a game. With Memphis’ erratic play and Houston’s elite defense, many thought Houston would overwhelm Memphis defensively. Instead, the Cougars turned the ball over 20 times, which was three more than the Tigers.

Memphis doesn’t have a bad defense, but they are far from a team that should be able to force 20 turnovers to anyone, much less a solid Houston team. The Cougars simply looked lost offensively and played sloppily for all 40 minutes. Although head coach Kelvin Sampson would never admit it, it seems that Houston checked out after already having clinched the AAC regular season title.

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