One of the biggest wins in Tiger basketball history came on March 20, 1983, when sophomore Keith Lee led Memphis to a victory over Patrick Ewing's Georgetown Hoyas in the NCAA tournament. (It was the only season in Ewing's four-year college career that his team didn't reach the championship game.) Since that win, though, the on-again, off-again series between these two programs has been severely one-sided.
When Antonio Barton's desperation three-point attempt fell short at the end of overtime this afternoon in Maui, it marked the ninth Tiger loss in ten games against the Hoyas. (Making matters worse, the only Tiger win came during the 2007-08 season. So it's been wiped off the books as part of the NCAA's punishment for the Derrick Rose scandal.) Having played three games — and a total of three overtimes — in three days at the Maui Invitational, the 8th-ranked Tigers will return to the mainland with a 2-2 record, their ranking certain to drop several slots when the polls are updated Monday.
After taking a 9-2 lead to start the game, Memphis endured a 19-2 run by the Hoyas and trailed 47-42 at halftime. The second half included nine lead changes and ended with the teams tied at 78. Georgetown's Greg Whittington tipped in a miss by Henry Sims to tie the game with 15 seconds left and the Tigers called timeout with just over 10 seconds to play. But Memphis settled for a 26-foot heave by freshman Adonis Thomas as time expired, his miss forcing the extra session.
With the Tigers leading 86-85 and just under a minute to play, the Hoyas' Jason Clark delivered a dagger from three-point range to give Georgetown an 88-86 lead, one they wouldn't surrender. Clark led all scorers with 26 points while Sims added 24 and nine rebounds. Will Barton led the Tigers with 22 points, followed by Joe Jackson with 20 and Tarik Black with 12. (Black fouled out for the second straight game and has battled foul trouble in all four of the Tigers' games this season.) For the first time this season, Memphis grabbed more rebounds than its opponent, if only by a narrow margin (37-35).
The Tigers (2-2) will return to the floor next Monday night at FedExForum when they host Jackson State. As for the lopsided rivalry with Georgetown, we'll see the next chapter in almost precisely a month. Memphis travels to D.C. for a rematch on December 22nd.