The Tigers' 2016-17 season finally hit rock bottom at the American Athletic Conference tournament in Hartford Friday afternoon. After taking an early 10-7 lead, the Tigers yielded a 23-2 run to the UCF Knights and fell behind by 17 (43-26) at halftime. Matters didn't improve in the second half, and UCF secured a spot in Saturday's semifinals (against SMU).
The loss is the worst in league-tournament play in Memphis history, this being the 48th such event in which the U of M has played. Combined with the 41-point blowout at SMU last Saturday, the loss — the Tigers' seventh in their final nine games — will leave as sour a taste as any season-ender in memory. It also means the Tigers (19-13) have gone three straight seasons without reaching the 20-win plateau for the first time since a four-year drought from 1996-97 to 1999-2000.
Senior guard Matt Williams led the Knights with 19 points as UCF shot 54 percent from the field. The Tigers made only 19 of 60 shots (32 percent) and were a putrid four for 17 from three-point range. All-league forward Dedric Lawson
led Memphis with 12 points in what could well be his final college game. Jeremiah Martin
added 11 points and K.J. Lawson
(the AAC's Rookie of the Year) scored 10.