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Tigers Basketball Insider: Turnovers take toll on team
A dejected Landers Nolley II walks down the court after losing the ball out of bounds against Tulsa last month. (Mark Weber/The Daily Memphian file)

A dejected Landers Nolley II walks down the court after losing the ball out of bounds against Tulsa last month. (Mark Weber/The Daily Memphian file)

Hello, and welcome back to the Tigers Basketball Insider. Below, you’ll find the latest news and analysis from The Daily Memphian’s Danielle Lerner and Geoff Calkins. 

On Thursday evening at FedExForum, the Memphis men’s basketball team will at long last play its first game of 2021. 

SMU (7-2, 3-2 AAC), the opponent for the night, is fifth in the conference standings right behind Memphis and a dangerous adversary, but there’s another threat the Tigers need to watch for: turnovers. 


Memphis ranks dead last in the league in turnover rate (23.8% of possessions) and is tied with Cincinnati for most turnovers per game (15). 

Turnovers have emerged as a common thread in the Tigers’ most disappointing performances this season. The Tigers are 1-3 in games where they log more turnovers than assists; the lone exception was a win over Central Arkansas in which Memphis offset its 20 turnovers by forcing a season-high 30 turnovers with 17 steals. 

Sure, turnovers are bound to happen playing a fast-paced style like the one Memphis coach Penny Hardaway prefers. And sometimes an opponent just plays great defense to intercept a pass or draw a charge. But all too often, the giveaways Memphis commits — lane violations, stepping out of bounds, traveling calls — are unforced, and a direct result of players losing focus. 

The Tigers’ non-steal turnover rate on offense (12.9%) ranks 310th in the country. That’s not good, especially given how mightily the offense has struggled to find a shooting flow. 

Following the Dec. 29 win over South Florida, Hardaway said he’s starting to get the hang of identifying which players are locked in on the court. It’s hard to predict when mental lapses will occur, but if coaches can course correct in real time by talking to players on the sideline or sending them to the bench after too many unforced mistakes, it could help limit the damage. 


It’s possible this is a chicken-and-egg situation. Maybe turnovers have deprived the Memphis offense of rhythm. Or maybe the new “lion” system, given some time to sink in, will naturally weed out turnovers by prioritizing better ball movement. 

We’ll see this week. 

 More from your Insider:

Tigers basketball mailbag: Substitutions, Moussa Cisse and an ideal starting five

Lots of questions, including: “If you had a game today who would you have as your starting 5 and why?” One reader even is asking about next season.

Memphis-UCF game rescheduled for Feb. 1

The Memphis vs. UCF basketball game postponed Tuesday in Orlando has been rescheduled for Feb. 1 in Memphis, the American Athletic Conference announced Thursday. 

Memphis ‘keeping the pressure on’ amid 17-day layoff

The Tigers are hoping to get a game during that span, but in the meantime, it’s a chance to work on their new offense.

Memphis basketball game at UCF tonight postponed

It’s the second game postponement in four days for the Tigers, who will wait until Jan. 14 for their next game against SMU. 

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