Memphis Tigers Must Stay Focused Moving Toward 2014 NCAA Tournament

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 17 Memphis Tigers easily dispatched the Jackson State Tigers 75-61 despite a huge performance from Jackson State Center Brandon West. He had a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough to slow down the 9-2 Tigers.

The win over a lowly 4-8 Southwestern Athletic Conference team like Jackson State may not seem like a big deal, but in recent seasons, Memphis has tended to lose focus against weaker opposition. The Tigers showed against Jackson State that even when they are up by 12 at halftime, they don’t stop fighting for the win. Memphis must keep playing hard through both halves, because the AAC is full of teams that are capable of coming back late in games.

Despite the current National Champions, the Louisville Cardinals, being the favorite to win the AAC, Memphis has everything it takes to beat the Cardinals both times and win the conference. However, the AAC is far more dangerous than just Louisville. The South Florida Bulls, No. 15 Connecticut Huskies, Cincinnati Bearcats, SMU Mustangs, UCF Knights and Houston Cougars all have at least eight wins and are dreaming of a berth in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Memphis cannot afford to relax against any of their AAC opposition.

Little wins over weaker, non-conference opposition like Jackson State do not seem like much, but it means that the Tigers are one step closer to their goal of a top two seed in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Starting AAC play, the Tigers faces 8-4 South Florida next and will have to play both halves if they want to win a tough game against a decent team on the road.

Taylor Sturm is an SEC Basketball Writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @TSturmRS, like him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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