The Auburn Tigers faced off against the Memphis Tigers in Atlanta, Georgia, for Holiday Hoopsgiving on Saturday, Dec. 12. Memphis entered the showdown on a three game winning streak, looking to elevate their 4-2 record. Auburn came into the game 2-2 overall and with a full week of preparation. Auburn left State Farm Arena victorious Saturday as they defeated Memphis 74-71. Memphis, who previously held opponents to an average of 38% shooting, definitely let up the pressure during this tournament. Auburn aggressively attacked Memphis’s defense as they knocked down 45% of their field goal attempts.
This matchup was the third time in history that these two Tigers matched up. Auburn won the previous two meetings.
Memphis Head Coach Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway’s biggest concern coming into the game was being able to keep up with Auburn’s 42.5 rebounding average.
“They crash the glass really well,” Hardaway said. “That’s something we haven’t been doing well, boxing out.”
After demanding a tip-off rescheduled to accommodate the football team, Auburn Head Coach Bruce Pearl’s next concern was his team’s ability to navigate Memphis’s league caliber talent.
“This week we have worked to go against a team that is going to press us a little bit and extend defensively,” Pearl added. “They will be really hard to guard because their athletes are difficult to stay in front of…They will have four or five guys who will play in the NBA before it is all said and done.”
Memphis has four players scoring in double digits this season and planned on carrying on the offensive show in Atlanta.
Memphis was able to slow down the opposition’s rebounding attack, as they out snagged Auburn 47-35 under the rim. Moussa Cisse led the game in rebounds as the big man brought down 14 balls for Memphis, a career-high. After being named AAC Preseason Rookie of the Year, the freshman Cisse has dominated the glass early in his collegiate career.
Auburn was able to knock down more shots down the stretch of the close game to advance their team to 3-2. Freshman guard Justin Powell stole the show with his 26 point and eight-rebound performance.
“That momentum carried me for the rest of the game, and it got everybody else kind of going a little bit,” Powell said. “We started off well, we put up some points. I think that just solidified the tone.”
Memphis fell to 4-3 and only had three players reaching double figures in scoring this time around. Sophomore forward D.J Jeffries posted an impressive 16 point and seven rebound finish for the Tigers from Beale Street.