Memphis versus Tennessee, need I say more? Every year the Memphis Tigers and the Tennessee Volunteers mark the date on the calendar when these two bitter rivals clash. In their previous match up in the Maui Invitational in Hawaii, it took the Memphis Tigers double overtime to beat the Volunteers in a close 99-97 victory.
Not so much the case this time in front of a sold out Fedex Forum. Memphis put two solid halves together to bury their in state rival. Self-proclaimed “King of Memphis” guard Joe Jackson put aside all frustrations and decided to stay a Tiger and decided to play some ball. Jackson although only playing fifteen minutes was a defensive nuisance. He slapped the floor letting the offensive Vol know that he was here to play some defense and that he did. Jackson’s numbers weren’t staggering by any means scoring 7 point and dishing out 4 assists, it was his on ball defense that helped the Tigers to 10 steals and 15 Volunteer turnovers.
The halftime score doesn’t indicate how well both teams played. It wasn’t until the second half that the Tigers kicked defense up a notch and limited the Vols to 36 percent shooting for the game. Tarik Black finally looked like the player Tiger fans have been hoping. Black finished the night with 18 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks. Many of Black’s points were feeds from players for easy dunks.
The offense seemed to be a little more active tonight. Memphis got to the free throw line 15 times making 14 of them.
On numerous occasions Jackson’s speed would like the Vols in the dust only relying on other defenders to help stop him. When this happened Jackson found open players like Antonio Barton who rang up 19 points including 4 of 5 from three point range.
So was that what the “King of Memphis” needed? Just to take a step back and gather his thoughts. Time will tell. Lets see if these same Tigers show up to Birmingham on Saturday to face the scrappy UAB Blazers. If they play the way they did tonight, the King and his court should be posting another victory to the resume.