Tigers drop AAC title game to UConn - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Tigers drop AAC title game to UConn

A tiny Tigers fan watches the AAC Championship (Source: WMC Action News 5) A tiny Tigers fan watches the AAC Championship (Source: WMC Action News 5)
ORLANDO, FL (WMC) -

Despite a roller coaster season, the Memphis Tigers fell just shy of an NCAA tournament berth.

The Tigers made it all the way to the American Athletic Conference Championship game after a solid showing in the tournament.

"We need some wins here to get our mojo back and get rolling into the conference tournament,” Head Coach Josh Pastner said last month.

Get rolling they did, winning conference tournament games against Tulsa and Tulane by big figures.

Despite this, the Tigers lost to UConn, 72-58.

A 19 point first half proved costly to the Tigers, who went on a big run to start the second half and chop away at a big deficit.

Memphis shot just 37 percent from the field and got very little production outside of Dedric Lawson, who was excellent with 21 points and 11 rebounds.

An extremely balanced attack by UConn made sure they held the lead for the final 35 minutes of the game.

Even with the excitement of a possible AAC Championship, many sports bars around town were empty in spots that used to be packed with Memphis fans cheering on their team.

The few fans that showed up at Celtic Crossing in Cooper-Young were just as enthusiastic as ever for the team and said they wish others would be as well.

"I expected it to be packed and it's not,” Mike Lakey said. “I'm afraid it's the state of Tiger Basketball these days. They're so inconsistent, and they're showing why we've been disappointed most of the season right today."

With the loss, Memphis finishes the season with a 19-15 record, leading many to wonder if the end is near for head coach Josh Pastner.

The U of M administration has made it clear Pastner will be re-evaluated at the end of the season, but parting ways would mean the Tigers pay out a $10.6 million buyout.

Last month, the Tigers made it clear they would not fire the coach in mid-season despite rising concerns about the coach’s job security. 

“I love every second of it. I’m coaching at a great program,” Pastner said at a February press conference.

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