TAMPA, Fla. — Sitting at 6 and 5 midway through January, just about everybody had written off the Memphis Tigers.
Now, six weeks later and the U of M is the hottest team in the American Athletic Conference heading what can only be described as the biggest game in Penny Hardaway’s short tenure as Tigers head coach.
Thanks to Tuesday night’s blowout win in Tampa and a season sweep of South Florida, the Tigers have won six straight and nine of ten as they head to Houston Sunday where a win over the ninth ranked Cougars probably locks down this program’s first NCAA Tournament bid since 2014.
“There’s a different type of attitude that the players are walking around with. The swagger that they’re walking around with is like, now we belong,” said Tigers coach Penny Hardaway. “It’s taken us a long time to get to this point because we’ve been pulling teeth all year to try to get to this point. Now there’s no egos. They checked their egos at the door and the guys are really rooting for one another. They’re really close and that’s a dangerous sign for other teams because now that we’re close, we can accomplish anything that we want to accomplish.”
“I feel like we’re hungry. We get to play against a top team in the country, on national television and we get a chance to prove to everybody that we’re an NCAA team,” said Tigers guard Boogie Ellis. “I feel it’s a great opportunity for us and I feel like, all we have to do is capitalize.”
The Tigers play at Houston at 11 am Sunday in a game you can see on WREG News Channel 3.