Memphis already has fallen out of the AP Top 10.
Now the Tigers might be on their way out of the rankings altogether.
No. 18 Memphis (5-2) dropped from No. 9 after losing to Iowa State 78-59 last Friday, then lost at Georgia 82-79 on Wednesday night.
The Tigers will try to get back on track when they visit Ole Miss (5-2) on Saturday.
“We’ve got to get back to work,” center Jalen Duren said.
Coach Penny Hardaway changed the team’s offense after the loss to Iowa State in the NIT Season Tip-Off in Brooklyn, N.Y. He took away some of the freedom he had given the players and returned to the more structured approach that helped the Tigers win the NIT title last season.
“It’s not like we’re reinventing the wheel,” Hardaway said. “We’re just going back to what we ran last year.”
The change didn’t help in the early going against Georgia as Memphis made just four of its first 15 field goal attempts and eight of the first 26.
But things got better, and the Tigers led for most of the second half before falling behind for good in the final two minutes.
They had their highest assist total (15) since the season opener and finished with a season-low 11 turnovers. The improvement, though, wasn’t good enough.
“It’s the same problem we saw from the preseason games, and they’re still there now,” Hardaway said. “We’re not turning a corner. We don’t look like we have fun playing with one another.
“Even though we had more assists, even though we moved the ball from strong to weak (side), it was just still guys pouting. It’s been happening since the first game. Guys are willing to lose if they’re not getting their way.”
Six Memphis players scored in double figures, but two fouled out and the Tigers were outscored 27-14 on free throws.
This will be the Tigers’ fourth game against an SEC opponent in 18 days.
The Rebels are coming off a 75-51 home rout over Rider on Tuesday night. Ole Miss dominated in rebounding (57-36).
“We talked about trying to be a dominant, physical team and play like an SEC team,” Ole Miss coach Kermit Davis said. “(The rebounds) allowed us to get in transition. I thought more guys played harder.”
Graduate transfer Nysier Brooks led the way with 15 rebounds, tying his career high set as a senior at Miami last season.
“We’ve definitely been focusing on rebounding,” Brooks said. “I’ve just really been trying to focus on things I’m great at and making sure I do those, even if the ball might not be going in the hole for me as frequently as I may like. I’m just trying to bring more of my defensive presence at protecting the rim, defending, rebounding.”
Now the Rebels will be tested by a ranked team – at least for the time being.
“The cliché is it’s another game, but this game is not another game,” said Jarkel Joiner, who scored 18 points against Rider. “It’s a big game for us.”
-Field Level Media