Memphis basketball’s potentially make-or-break three-game stretch has arrived.
It begins Sunday (3 p.m., ESPN2) when the Tigers (6-2) travel to College Station, Texas, to face 19th-ranked Texas A&M. The Aggies (7-2) started the season strong but have alternated wins and losses over the last four games.
Penny Hardaway’s team, with its overtime win at VCU on Wednesday, is 1-2 in its last three games. Losses against Villanova at the Battle 4 Atlantis and Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi, took some wind out of the Tigers’ sails. The nonconference portion of this season’s schedule is critical for Memphis and its NCAA tournament prospects.
But, starting Sunday, the Tigers have a chance to atone for the blemishes on their resumé. Here are three things to keep an eye on ahead of Sunday’s tip-off.
Memphis basketball player, injury updates
Jordan Brown has yet to live up to expectation. The 6-foot-11 reigning Sun Belt Player of the Year had a rough week at the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas and is stuck in a funk, scoring only two points in just seven minutes last week against Ole Miss.
Brown did not travel with the team to VCU. Hardaway said after the game that he was “sick.” Despite his diminishing role and diminished production, his absence Wednesday was felt, according to point guard Jahvon Quinerly.
As for whether Brown will be ready to return to the team by the time it leaves Saturday, Hardaway wasn’t sure following the win over VCU.
“I’m hoping when we get back … he’s like, ‘I’m ready to get back.’ That he was excited about seeing the game and that we pulled it out without him,” said Hardaway.
Leading scorer (19.0 ppg) and rebounder (6.5 rpg) David Jones tweaked his left ankle against VCU, aggravating an injury that kept him out of several practices last month. He returned to finish the game after spending brief time in the locker room and left the arena sporting a walking boot. It’s unclear whether the ankle issue will limit him at all Sunday or keep him out of the game.
Tigers still building chemistry
Wins over Missouri, Michigan and Arkansas might be a sign that Memphis’ roster overhaul has been hitch-free.
But the past three games − and many of the comments after the VCU win − indicate that is far from true. Hardaway, Quinerly and Caleb Mills were candid in their assessments of the overall chemistry (or, lack of it) among the ranks.
“It’s just gonna take for them to say, ‘I’m sacrificing my points, you sacrifice your points, you sacrifice your points,’” said Hardaway. “And, then, guess what – it’s going to all come together then. But, right now, they’re all trying to go out there, rightfully so, feeling like, ‘I can go by my man and get to the basket.’”
Texas A&M scouting report
Buzz Williams’ team is led by guard Wade Taylor IV (18.0 ppg, 4.6 assists per game) and forward Henry Coleman III (14.3 ppg, 9.1 rpg).
One of the slowest-paced teams in college basketball, the Aggies have the seventh-best…
Read More: Memphis basketball vs. Texas A&M: Score prediction, scouting report 2023-12-08 11:03:29