MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Seven and a half months ago Penny Hardaway was named the new head men’s basketball coach at the University of Memphis. The euphoria of a favorite son coming home to lead his Alma Mater carried a blue and gray wave all the way through the summer to Tuesday night’s season opener vs. Tennessee Tech as the Tigers won 76-61 in Penny’s debut on the bench.
Penny’s players got off to a rollicking start as senior Jeremiah Martin hit the first basket of the new regime. The opening night crowd of 15,231 roared as Martin knocked down two straight three pointers to give the Tigers an early 15-8 lead. Martin finished the game with 18 points.
Senior Kyvon Davenport led the way however. Davenport finished with a team high 30 points, a new career best, and 10 rebounds. Fellow senior Kareem Brewton added seven points and five steals.
“Grateful and honored to be a part of this moment," Martin said about opening the Penny era with a win. "This great era that I know is going to last for a long time. Happy for coach.”
“It did feel like old times," Penny said when asked if the environment reminded him of his college days the U of M. "That crowd was electric. Jeremiah hit some threes back to back, and we got some stops. We had the crowd behind us, ready to knock them out, but we let them linger. We let them hang around. Let them foul too much. Let them calm down. But, that energy we had when we went on that run reminded me of old times when I was playing.”
The Tigers, now 1-0, have a week to get ready for their first big test on the road against #23 LSU in Baton Rouge on Tuesday November 13 at 6 p.m.