Scouting Report: Tigers face old rival UAB on the road

Bradley Game Notes

If you were looking for the Tigers to follow up their energetic win against NC State with a similar performance against Bradley, your expectations were out of line. The Tigers emerged victorious by the score of 71-56, but the game had no discernible flow and a low entertainment value. 

One can be encouraged that even though the Tigers shot 33% from the field in the first half, they held their opponents to 25% shooting in that same period. The lone bright spot from the first frame — and quite frankly, the game — was sophomore guard Alex Lomax. He earned 10 of Memphis’ 29 first half points and ended the game with 17 off the bench. This is the second time in three games that the point guard has scored in double figures and now is averaging 9 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 4.8 assists on the season after that performance. 

The Tigers allowed the Braves to grab 19 offensive rebounds (previous high given up was 13) in the game and lost the battle of the boards 49-43. Elijah Childs for Bradley led all players with 14 rebounds in the contest. Memphis forward Precious Achiuwa couldn’t get going on offense, shooting just 3 of 13 from the field for a total of 6 points and no free throw attempts. However, he did wrangle 13 rebounds and tally 5 blocks, showing that he can impact the game even if shots aren’t falling. 

Germantown high school native Darrell Brown struggled in his return to the Bluff City. The Bradley guard was 1-15 from the field and the Braves’ leading scorer just didn’t have it. Memphis guards Tyler Harris and Boogie Ellis both scored in double figures and hit 4 of their 8 collective threes. 

Early in the game, big men Lance Thomas and Isaiah Maurice were letting it fly from three and the guards weren’t getting shots from beyond the arc. The inversion of normal basketball flow was just one example of the trudging feeling that permeated the Forum.  

Damion Baugh went steal-less for the third game in a row after swiping 8 in his first 5 games of the season.

It was a slow game with little flow, but Memphis looked a little closer to their normal selves in the second half when they put up 42 points to close out the game. 

On Saturday, the Tigers will travel to Birmingham, Alamaba to play long time rival UAB in the 10th annual Bartow Classic. The classic is named after the late Gene Bartow, who led Memphis State to their title game in the 70’s and later coached at UAB from 1978-1996. 

This will be the 50th contest between the two schools and Memphis leads the all-time series 38-11. There are only six schools that Memphis has played more times than UAB over the course of history

UAB Scouting Report

The Blazers are currently 4-3 and led by coach Rob Ehsan. UAB is in the middle of the toughest stretch of their season, having come off of back-to-back losses to Kentucky and Texas, where they lost by 11 and 9 points respectively.

Despite playing a pair of solid opponents recently, UAB still owns a sub-300 strength of schedule because the rest of their opponents were all sub 200 KenPom teams.

Earlier in the year, UAB released their best player, junior guard Zach Bryant, after just three games, for “conduct detrimental to the team.” This greatly hampered their odds at a successful season.

As far as pace, the Blazers play suuuppperrr slow. They are listed at 331st in adjusted tempo — essentially the bottom in all of college basketball.

UAB’s Strengths

Offensive rebounding: The Blazers are top 10 in the nation in Offensive Rebounding Percentage. Seeing as how Memphis allowed Bradley to have their way on this side of the glass, that is a trend the Tigers will not want to continue. 

Not fouling: UAB’s opponents earn only 12.1% of their points from the charity stripe. This is one of the lowest marks in the nation.

UAB’s Weaknesses

Shooting, in general: UAB is 30% from three and 45% from two this season, putting them easily in the bottom third in the nation in both categories. They do shoot 75% from the free throw line as a team, but only 17% of their points are earned from that variety.

Sharing the ball. With an assist rate of only 42% on made field goals, coach Ehsan’s team is scraping the bottom of the barrell in assists. No active player on the Blazers roster averages more than 2.1 assists per game.

Turnovers: The Blazers turn the ball over on average 14 times per game. For perspective, the Tigers also turn the ball over at a high rate with 21 turnovers per game. The faster pace that Memphis plays with gives more opportunities for young freshmen to make mistakes. The trade off is that there are more possessions to learn from and recover.

Blazers Impact Players

The leading scorer for the Blazers is Jalen Benjamin, a  5’10 freshman guard who was a 3-star recruit out of high school. He is averaging 11.9p/3.1r/1a. Benjamin is a score-first guard and a deadeye free throw shooter, hitting them at a 95% rate. Benjamin has scored in double figures in 5 games this season.

Tavin Lovan also averages double figure scoring at 11.4 points per game. Lovan adds 5 rebounds per contest and shoots 53% from the field. Benjamin’s backcourt mate has also pitched in by scoring ten or more points in 5 of his 7 games.

On the wing, Tyreek Scott-Grayson contributes 9.4 points per game and has scored well the past two games against Kentucky and Texas, averaging 15 points in those two matchups.

Down low, the Blazers have Will Butler and Makhtar Gueye who both average over 5 rebounds per game. Butler is one of the main reasons that the Blazers have such a high offensive rebounding percentage as he ranks in the top 20 in the country as an individual for that area. 

Isiah Stokes transfer waiver denied by the NCAA on Tuesday

Recruiting

Moussa Diabate is a top ten player in class of 2021. Memphis has been associated with him for a while now

Darius Miles is a 6’7’’ forward who is a 3-star prospect in the class of  2020

Brandon Huntley Hatfield is a  top ten forward in the class of 2022 who has mostly SEC schools recruiting him like Kentucky, UT, Auburn

Jarace Walker is listed is a forward listed at 6’6”who is a top 5 player class of 2022.

Camden is a fringe 100 forward rated as a 4-star prospect in the class of 2021.

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Zak (@BarnBurnerBro) is a native Memphian who covers the Memphis Grizzlies, Tigers, and St. Louis Cardinals for The Barn. He spends his free time exploring breweries, restaurants, and leading the Ivan Rabb stan club.


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