Alabama Basketball Opponent Preview: Memphis Tigers

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports /

An Alabama basketball team that is now ranked in the top five in the country looks to continue its momentum at home against Memphis tonight.

The Crimson Tide are coming off an impressive road victory over the Houston Cougars, who were ranked number one in the country at the time. The Tide may appear to be in a prime letdown spot, but they should know better to look past the Memphis Tigers.

Last season, Alabama basketball enjoyed back-to-back emotional victories over elite teams in Gonzaga and Houston. They then went on the road and were abruptly upset by a reeling Memphis team.

If the 2022-23 Crimson Tide have truly reached the level of maturity that Coach Nate Oats has publicly discussed, they will be mentally prepared for this game. Still, Memphis will not be a cakewalk.

Memphis enters the game 8-2, and is riding a six-game winning streak. The Tigers are coming off of a convincing neutral site victory over Auburn. They also defeated Ole Miss and Vanderbilt earlier this season, making them 3-0 against SEC opponents. Memphis is a veteran team, as each of the team’s top eight scorers are seniors.

Athletic wing Deandre Williams and guard Kendric Davis are the go-to guys for the Tigers. Williams has been a mainstay on Penny Hardaway’s roster for three years. He has scored in double-figures all four seasons he has been in college, which included one season at Evansville.

Williams is an incredibly versatile forward at 6’9”, and is currently averaging 14.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.3 steals, and 1.1 blocks per game. He ranks in the top three on the team in each of these statistical categories.

Kendric Davis is an SMU transfer that has been one of the best players in the American Athletic Conference for several seasons. He has racked up over 1,700 career points and over 500 career assists, and currently leads Memphis with 18.4 points and 4.9 assists per game.

Davis is joined in the backcourt by savvy veteran Alex Lomax, a fifth-year senior who has spent his entire career at Memphis. Lomax is a defensive ace who is averaging 8.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 3.0 steals per game. He ranks fifth in the nation in total steals and third in pilfers per game.

Memphis has a deep and balanced supporting cast that includes UTEP transfer Keonte Kennedy and senior Jayden Hardaway on the wing, and seasoned vets Malcolm Dandridge and Chandler Lawson in the post.

Like Houston, this will be a physical and gritty opponent for Alabama basketball. The key will be slowing down Kendric Davis and Deandre Williams, who generate massive portions of the Tigers’ offense.

Alabama will have the benefit of returning to its home venue. It should also enjoy bounce-back performances from Jahvon Quinerly and Brandon Miller, who struggled mightily at Houston.

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Memphis is yet another hurdle in what might be the toughest non-conference schedule in the nation. This game will provide another opportunity for a young Alabama basketball team to show its toughness, maturity, and mental fortitude.