BAHAMAS — Wednesday’s debut for Penny Hardaway and the Tigers was a resounding success in the Bahamas.
The Tigers played without two bigs and the two biggest names in the nation’s number one recruiting class, James Wiseman and Precious Achiuwa and it didn’t matter.
After a slow start against the Commonwealth Bank Giants, the U of M picked it up a notch in the second quarter and never looked back. They got a combined 31 points from D.J. Jeffries and Lance Thomas in the first half, which ended with Alex Lomax hitting the runner before the buzzer giving the Tigers a 51-44 lead.
“I think everyone is going to have butterflies on the first game because we are all new to playing with each other so I think once we get used to playing with each other we saw what it can be,” said D.J. Jeffries.
“Everybody was a little jittery, I don’t know about nervous but just real anxious. That’s all it was in the beginning” said Lance Thomas.
From there the Tigers dialed things up shooting 51 percent from the floor and knocking down 13 3’s, 7 coming from Boogie Ellis, Lester Quinones and Tyler Harris. Throw in 22 assists and 11 steals, and it was a total team effort.
Jeffries scored a team-high 21 and Damion Baugh put the exclamation mark on the Tigers 114-83 blowout in the Bahamas.
“Overall 114 points over 20 assists, the way we shared the basketball and the energy we had was crazy,” said Penny Hardaway.
Of the seven Tigers playing their first game in the blue and grey no one has waited longer than Thomas. He’s played just 12 games the last 2 plus seasons. Wednesday night in his Tiger debut 19 points on 6-8 shooting.
“I showed them a little something. I played alright, I played pretty good in my first game back in like a year of a half. I have way more,” said Thomas.