Tigers shake off losses, prepare to host Arkansas State in home opener

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — The Tigers return to FedexForum Wednesday night after nine months away and the feel will be completely different with limited fans.

Penny Hardaway said it will actually be refreshing to play in front of those fews fans and family, something they weren’t able to do in South Dakota.

“To be honest, the last time we played there I don’t even remember what the last game was,” said Tigers guard Boogie Ellis. “It’s been so long.”

Well Boogie, the last time you all played at the forum was March 5. It was 68-60 win over Wichita State.

Wednesday will be a much different atmosphere.

“Just having that tournament in South Dakota got us prepared prepared for that because there were no fans in the stands at all,” Hardaway said. “So, we welcome coming back home and actually having some fans in the stands. So, it was really weird trying to motivate and keep going without seeing anybody in the arena.”

And, motivation is what the Tigers need. After going 1-2 in Sioux Falls, Hardaway said his team was broken and needed healing. 

“I’m sure everybody noticed the selfish play on the offensive end and that’s not what we preach,” Hardaway said. “We’ve always been the team to be one more pass, get the next pass to your teammate, make the right play and we just stopped doing that the better that the games got. We came back home and said that we cannot play that way. We’re 1-2 when we shouldn’t be 1-2. I’m taking ownership of all of that and I’m correcting as we go.”

The Tigers are taking on a winless Arkansas State team Wednesday night.

Forward D.J. Jeffries, who has stepped up to a leadership role this season, said the Tigers haven’t watched any film from their losses in South Dakota to prepare for the Red Wolves.

He said they’re focusing on something much bigger.

“We just can’t be individuals, it’s more than just us,” Jeffries said. “We’re playing for Memphis, we’re playing for each other, we’re playing for the whole city. So, we just got to stay together and remember that.”

Ellis said, “I feel like if we get this thing together and we buy in for one another then we’ll be OK.”

The Tigers host Arkansas State Wednesday night at 7 p.m.

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