Sunday afternoon at the FedEx Forum saw the 83rd meeting between the Cincinnati Bearcats and the hometown Memphis Tigers. Sunday’s matchup between the Bearcats and Tigers was an instant classic, to say the least, and for the second time this season, Memphis looked like the team that everybody expected them to from the preseason. Arguably, Sunday was one of, if not the biggest win in the Penny Hardaway era at Memphis.
So what are the three major takeaways from Sunday’s win over Cincinnati you, might ask?
First, Memphis is a different team when Josh Minott is on the court; Minott adds a certain level of spark to the Memphis lineup that you can only find on elite teams with National Championship aspirations. According to some NBA scouts, Josh Minott has some of the best potential on the team to be an NBA Lottery pick despite not being the most recruited guy in the recruiting class. What separates Josh Minott from the rest of the guys on the team is the unteachable things that Josh composes in his game. He’s a role player with a lot of upward uncapped potential and will likely be the difference-maker in how the 2021-2022 Memphis basketball season ends. If Memphis were to make a March Madness run this season, it would be because of the play of Josh Minott and how he makes this team all that much better.
Second, isn’t it fun to watch Memphis play when Lester Quinones and Tyler Harris are playing to their full potential like they were on Sunday afternoon at the FedEx Forum? Because when those two are red hot and smoking like they were on Sunday afternoon, then there’s not a team in the country that can beat Memphis. From 38 combined points to the gigantic defensive plays down the stretch of the game, Lester and Tyler showed their true colors on Sunday in the win over Cincinnati.
Lastly, let’s talk about Emoni Bates for a second. Emoni Bates is the best point guard for this program, and guess what, he’s still a kid. He’s seventeen years old, playing against grown men and holding his own. I get it he’s not always perfect out there on the court, but what more can you ask of a kid who should still be in high school. Instead, he’s playing a major role in both the Alabama win and the win on Sunday. In Sunday’s win, Emoni Bates finished the day with twelve points. Not bad for a seventeen-year-old kid. It’s not every day you have a kid in your program who has a lot of talent but has to stay with the program for two seasons before heading to the NBA to make a name for himself and his family.
It’s still early in the season, but one thing is for certain as the Tigers grind their boots in the mud to make a stand for the rest of the season. As March approaches, there are not many programs in College Basketball that would sign up to play Penny Hardaway and his Memphis Tigers.