It was a battle of two American Athletic heavyweights as the Memphis Tigers welcomed the Tulane Green Wave to the FedEx Forum on Saturday night. With NCAA Tournament implications on the line, Tulane and Memphis squared off in one of the most physically demanding games of the season. It started early in the first half as a Tulane played started to jaw at Memphis Head Coach Penny Hardaway. A jawing ending, with both coaches being separated at mid-court by the officials.
From there, it was on; Memphis and Tulane struggled to separate from each other, going back and forth until the final buzzer of the first half. Memphis had two guys leading the way in scoring with a combined twenty-two points in the first half. Keonte Kennedy and Kendric Davis led the way for the Tigers with eleven points each. At the half, Memphis held together a three-point lead over Tulane.
At the break, Memphis retired the jersey of the late great Lorenzen Wright. Wright played at Memphis from 1994-1996 and is considered one of the best Memphis Tigers to ever play for the program. Loved by many, Wright will forever be a crowd favorite amongst Tiger Nation.
Memphis and Tulane went back and forth with little to no separation to start the second half. At the under-12 media timeout, Tulane earned their first lead of the game since going up 2-0 at the start. It was 62-61 Green Wave with 11:20 remaining in the game. As nervous energy filled the Fourm, Kendric Davis for the Tigers came out and nailed a mid-range jump shot following the timeout to retake the Memphis lead by one. Two free throws later from the Green Wave, and Tulane had the advantage again.
In conversation pregame with Tulane Assistant Coach Ray Mccallum, Coach talked to me about Tulane having a few good practices heading into the Memphis game on Saturday. We also talked about expecting the matchup on Saturday between the two to be physically demanding with a side of points. He was right, as Tulane and Memphis combined for 141 points, with the Green Wave holding on to a 71-70 lead.
At the final media timeout, it was the Tulane Green Wave clinging to a 75-74 lead over the Memphis Tigers. With just little remaining in the game, Memphis had 20 turnovers at the 3:48 mark of the second half and had 74 points keeping it a one-point game. A wild finish was indeed going to happen between Tulane and Memphis.
Memphis and Tulane didn’t have enough time and had to play overtime to decide the winner of the heavyweight fight between the two. You could cut the tension with a butter knife as college basketball fans from across the country had an NCAA Tournament play-in game in early February.
In overtime, Tulane came out and punched the Tigers in the mouth and came away from Saturday’s matchup with Memphis with a gigantic NCAA Tournament-caliber win. Memphis struggled at the charity stripe, causing Memphis to suffer a blow to the NCAA Tournament hopes for the Tigers.
Memphis will hit the road on Wednesday night as the Tigers travel to Tampa, Florida, to take on South Florida before returning home on Sunday to host Temple.