Alex Lomax briefly recoiled, really almost scoffed, then smiled.

When the idea that there was any comparison in between a huge shot on offense and a huge stop on the protective end, the Memphis guard provided press reporters with an unquestionable information.

” Oh, c’mon now, you know I like the huge stop,” Lomax stated. “This ‘Grind City,’ baby! You know we like defense.”

Indubitably. Lomax’s pronouncement can be found in the wake of the Tigers’ (12-6, 8-3 AAC) latest smothering proving, a 66-59 success over East Carolina. The exact same ECU that, only three days prior, had actually scored 81 points in a win over No. 5 Houston. The same Pirates group that managed the monster upset without Brandon Suggs, who scored 10 points at FedExForum Saturday.

Memphis held that ECU group (8-7, 2-7) to 10 points below its season average, the 2nd time in less than 2 weeks Cent Hardaway’s group has done so. The Tigers did it the same method they’ve done it most of this season. The very same method that has helped develop this specific bunch in blue as one of the most challenging groups to score on in the country.

The Tigers will sometimes deploy their fleet of guards the length of the court to put their opponents in high-stress situations, typically prior to the ball is ever thrown in bounds. If that doesn’t work right away, they turn up the heat nearly as quickly as the opposing team crosses half-court. Linger with the ball more than a 2nd or two and Memphis will utilize aggressive traps versus the limits, hoping it will lead to a steal, an errant pass or, if nothing else, a rushed, low-percentage shot.

That technique isn’t utilized sparingly, either. Memphis uses the same concept for the majority of the game.

” I seem like that’s our best defense, when we’re up pressuring folks 94 feet,” sophomore D.J. Jeffries said. “Ain’t nothing better than getting stops on defense.”

” I do not see a great deal of groups around the nation play defense like that,” Hardaway stated. “I indicate, I see a great deal of college basketball. You can put our numbers versus a lot of the leading teams around the nation.”

He’s ideal. Memphis is limiting challengers to approximately 0.77 points per ownership this season, which ranks better than 97% of teams in Department I. Teams have actually just scored 0.76 points per ownership against the Tigers in the half-court, when they have a chance to get set. In shift, Memphis is quiting 0.82 points per belongings, much better than 95% of the nation.

The Tigers have actually pushed 25.3% of the time this season. When they do, teams manage only 0.70 points per ownership and turn the ball over 26.7% of the time.

In wider terms, Memphis ranks 4th in the country in adjusted protective efficiency and 11th in efficient basket portion. The Tigers, who have actually racked up double-digit takes three straight games, rank in the top 10 with 9.3 steals per game.

After beginning the season 6-5, Memphis had three straight video games postponed due to COVID-19 concerns for the opposing programs, resulting in a 19-day break from games. Hardaway stated it was that hiatus that afforded him the opportunity to set up the total plan of defensive schemes and contingencies in his arsenal.

” I like the defensive end of the ball,” Hardaway stated. “That’s the way you’re going to win video games. We have actually been proving that when we’ve needed to come back against teams with our tenacious energy and defense. So it’s the little wrinkles you see that we were able to put in those couple of weeks and it’s settling for us big-time.”

That tenacity has shown to be one of the crucial components behind the Tigers’ protective supremacy. Jeffries stated there’s actually obvious to Hardaway’s ability to elicit buy-in from his players.

” I imply, that’s just who he is as an individual,” he stated. “He loves going hard. He never takes days off. Even on off-days, he remains in the fitness center attempting to get everyone better. He likes to win. Like, his most significant thing is simply pushing, pressing. He desires us to be great. He’s going to press us to our limitations until he feels like we get there.”

He’s hoping the Tigers will continue to be rewarded for their efforts when they take the floor at 7 p.m. Thursday versus Cincinnati.

” Hydrate, unwind, enjoy this run we’ve had. But it’s not over,” Hardaway said. “Gon na rest (Sunday), (then) right back to work on Monday. Got ta be ready to combat again.”