After sitting out postseason play a year ago as part of APR penalties and losing this season's regular season finale to Louisiville by 33 points, No. 21 Connecticut was eager to get tournament play started Thursday night against No. 19 Memphis.
The Huskies trounced the Tigers 72-53 on their home floor at FedExForum in Memphis in the American Athletic Conference tournament. It is the third time this season UConn has beaten Memphis. The most recent game between the teams in February was decided in overtime, making Thursday's outcome even more surprising.
Memphis isn't exactly going into the NCAA tournament next week with any confidence. It has alternated wins and losses in its past six games over a span of three weeks.
Memphis coach Josh Pastner finally beat a few ranked teams this season. His inability to do so previously was the primary criticism of him entering the season, but despite those wins and his team being ranked, he still has his detractors. The Tigers bowing out of the conference tournament in ugly fashion will be more ammunition for them.
Meanwhile, the Huskies have to feel much better about themselves having put the memory of that ugly loss to Louisville behind them in resounding fashion. Niels Giffey was hot behind the 3-point line making six of eight attempts. He finished with 24 points. AAC Player of the Year Shabazz Napier scored 11.
UConn faces top-seeded Cincinnati in the semifinals Friday night. The Huskies and Bearcats split the season series.
- - - - - - -