Tulane Green Wave vs. Memphis Tigers Pick & Prediction JANUARY 21st 2024

No. 10 Memphis is looking for more focus.

So is Tulane.

Both teams will attempt to stay sharp and bounce back from disappointing performances in losses when they meet Sunday in an American Athletic Conference game in New Orleans.

The Tigers (15-3, 4-1) lost at home to South Florida 74-73 on Thursday.

Memphis coach Penny Hardaway said distractions caused by season-long issues between players were a factor in the defeat, which ended his team’s 10-game winning streak.

“It’s just a common theme with us,” he said without singling out any culprits. “We’ve had this all year. We’ve been able to mask it, but it’s there. We’re in the huddle, instead of talking about the other team, we’re trying to square things up. It’s just too much. You can’t do it. You’ve got to win the game.”

The Tigers have found themselves in several close finishes, having played six games decided by three points or less and two other games decided in overtime.

The Thursday loss, in which Memphis led by as many as 20 points, was just the Tigers’ second setback in those eight closes finishes. The Tigers were outscored 42-26 in the second half and finished with just eight assists.

“When you’re not playing team basketball,” Hardaway said, “that can happen.”

Another close finish could be in the offing Sunday. The Green Wave have won the past two meetings in New Orleans, and all five matchups at Tulane during Hardaway’s tenure have been decided by seven points or less.

“We know how they play against us,” Hardaway said. “And if you go down there and have eight assists, it will definitely be the same (outcome) that it was (Thursday).”

Tulane coach Ron Hunter, like Hardaway, lamented a lack of focus from his players after the Green Wave (11-6, 2-3) lost at UAB 83-69 on Wednesday.

Twice in the second half, Tulane players were busy complaining to the officials about not getting a call when the Green Wave got burned on the ensuing possession.

“That’s part of the inconsistency,” Hunter said. “Instead of just digging down and playing … we can’t just get mad at the official and those type of things. When you’re on the floor, our leadership has to come out here. We did it three nights ago on the road, but we didn’t do it this time.”

Hunter was referring to a 94-87 overtime victory at Tulsa last Sunday in a game in which Tulane overcame a 14-point, second-half deficit. But the Green Wave couldn’t carry over any momentum.

Tulane features balanced scoring, as all five regular starters average between 17.1 and 12.8 points per game. Against the Blazers, all the starters scored at least 12 points, but no one scored more than 14.

Leading scorer Kevin Cross had just four of his 14 points in the first half as the Green Wave saw a 10-point lead turn into a six-point halftime deficit. Second-leading scorer Jaylen Forbes shot 2-for-11 from the field and finished with 12 points.

Hunter said there are times that the Green Wave “look like world-beaters” but added that the inconsistency “is keeping me up at night.”

–Field Level Media

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