MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The Memphis Tigers fell behind by 14 points in the first half and cut the deficit to two to start the second half, but SMU pulled away and picked up a 70-62 win Thursday night at FedExForum.
Memphis (9-8, 3-4 American Athletic Conference) was led by Tyler Harris’ 17 points. Jalen Duren added 11 and nine rebounds. Alex Lomax, playing his first game since Dec. 29 at Tulane, had five points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals in 26 minutes.
The Tigers were playing without DeAndre Williams, Landers Nolley II and Jayden Hardaway due to injury. Now seven different Tigers, Emoni Bates, Duren, Hardaway, Lomax, Nolley II, Earl Timberlake and Williams, have missed at least one game this month due to injury.
“We got to be tougher as a group,” said Tigers coach Penny Hardaway. “We got to stop feeling sorry for ourselves when when things aren’t going right in just keep fighting right now. We’re not fighting. This isn’t a Memphis team. We’re not fighting hard enough for the entire game.”
NR/RV SMU (14-4, 5-1 AAC) was paced by the conference’s leading scorer, Kendric Davis, who had 20 points and eight rebounds.
The Mustangs jumped out to a 16-2 lead nine minutes into the game and led at halftime, 32-21. The Tigers scored the first six points of the second half and cut the deficit to 32-27, and it was down to two at 34-32 a few minutes later after a Lomax and-one.
A couple of possessions later Lomax converted a driving layup in the paint, swiped the subsequent SMU inbounds play and found Duren, who drew a foul and made both free throws to make the score 40-38 with 12 minutes to play.
But Memphis would get no closer after that, and SMU snapped the Tigers’ nine-game home conference winning streak.
Memphis shot 41.0 percent from the field in the game (25-61).
After the game Hardaway was asked if he was embarrassed by the way the Tigers are performing.
“We don’t have our full roster,” said Hardaway Thursday night. “Y’all know we don’t have our full roster. Stop asking me stupid f****** questions about if I feel like I can do something. If I had my roster like they did, then I feel like I can do whatever I want to do.”
“I’m coaching really hard. My boys are playing really hard. I’m not embarrassed about nothing. We have four freshmen starting. You need to act like act like we got 17, 18, 19 year olds out here trying to learn how to play against 22, 23 and 24 year old guys, come on, man.”
The Tigers are at Tulsa Sunday, tip off is set for 2 p.m. CT on ESPN.