The Memphis Tigers got their first statement victory in the American Athletic Conference by winning on the road against the Louisville Cardinals 73-67. This win told us just as much about Memphis as it did about Louisville, but the two stories will bring us in different directions.
I think getting a tough road win against one of the top teams in your conference is always a huge statement, but what really stuck out for Memphis was a balanced attack and a deep team that should be considered the favorite to win the conference. Joe Jackson led the way with 15 points and six assists, including three points in the final 39 seconds to ice it. Jackson was one of five scorers in double figures on the night and anytime you can bring the quality of Michael Dixon Jr. and David Pellom off the bench, you know you are deep enough to win your conference.
But as good as this win looks for Memphis, it doesn’t look very good in the big picture for the Cardinals. Without Chane Behanan, I don’t think the Cardinals have enough to win this conference. Russ Smith, Montrezl Harrell and Luke Hancock scored 53 of the team’s 67 points. They don’t have enough without that inside presence of Behanan, who was typically a double-double waiting to happen.
I wouldn’t quite throw the Cardinals’ name out of the hat just yet when it comes to winning the conference, but a game like this–where you cannot defend your home court as the higher seed–is not a good sign pointing towards the rest of the season.