MEMPHIS – Despite a gutsy effort, on the road at number two Houston Sunday, the Tigers lost to the Cougars.

But here’s the silver lining.

The U of M actually improved its tournament chances.

That according to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi.

Lunardi on Monday still has Penny Hardaway and company as one of his last four byes, but moved the Tigers up a couple of spots.  Meaning Memphis has almost played itself– off the bubble, less than three weeks from selection sunday.

Sunday, the Tigers getting to within five, with the ball with under two minutes to go before Houston held on for its 25th win of the season.  A win that came against a Tiger team playing without its best player, arguably the AAC’s best player,, in Kendric Davis and still gave the Coogs all they could handle as newcomers like Elijah McCadden stepped up.

McCadden scoring all 20 of his points in the second half for a Memphis team that knows it has what it takes to play against the nation’s best.

“We know that we can play with them. I think this group now has seen and been in a fire, in a hostile environment against those guys. I think I’m definitely encouraged. That’s exactly what I told the team,” Hardaway said.  “Let’s get hungrier from this moment. We played with a 90% Alo (Alex Lomax), kind of a 60% Malcolm (Dandridge) and no KD (Davis).  Still had an opportunity to win the game, get back into the game.  We just didn’t do it.  Definitely going to be using this as motivation.”

The Tigers stay on the road Thursday as they travel to Wichita State to take on the Shockers.