MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A win is a win no matter what, except when you don’t win the way the way you want.
Tigers head coach Penny Hardaway can relate.
Penny called the Tigers’ 78-72 win over East Carolina at FedExForum on Thursday night an "ugly win," and he's not wrong.
ECU came out as the better team in this one, knocking down three pointers, outrebounding the Tigers, and forcing Memphis to make careless mistakes.
With eight minutes to go in the first half, the Tigers were down by 15 points, and that did not go over well with Penny.
He made lineup changes coming into this one to prevent exactly what happened.
He pulled freshmen Tyler Harris and Antwann Jones and decided to go with an all-senior starting lineup, but he didn't get the results he wanted.
In the end, the freshmen he benched led the Tigers to a win.
Harris finished with a team high 16 points, while Jones sparked the team to a comeback in the second half.
That's why Penny had this harsh assessment of his seniors after the game.
“I went with the group of kids that pretty much started every game last year, and we put the team in their hands,” Penny said. “We felt like we had it in good hands, and for five seniors to come out and not start with any energy after understanding not making the NCAA Tournament last year, not making the NIT. That speaks volumes.
“I think the message is clear to the freshmen. I’m glad they responded the way they were supposed to, because we’re trying to make them better. It’s not punishment. We’re trying to create a culture here where we’re working hard every second every minute that we’re in that practice facility and the court.”
Freshman guard Alex Lomax left the game Thursday night after running into an ECU player in the first half. Lomax did not return to the game.
Penny said Lomax was feeling dizzy, but there’s no word yet on what the injury is.
It’s something to keep an eye on as the Tigers get ready to play Tulane on the road Sunday