The Memphis Tigers handed the Cougars their most heartbreaking loss all season in overtime yesterday, finishing 70-67.
The loss at Hofheinz brings the Cougars to 13-6 overall and 4-3 in the American Athletic Conference. With just 15 seconds left and the score within three points, the Tigers made a critical turnover that gave the Cougars an opportunity to tie the game.
Sophomore Galen Robinson Jr. tried for three with five seconds left and missed, but an offensive rebound from freshman Armoni Brooks kept the Cougars alive. Redshirt Junior Rob Gray shot as time expired, but the ball bounced off the rim.
“It’s a game we could’ve easily won,” said head coach Kelvin Sampson in the press conference. “We’ve had a lot of games like this this year.”
Overtime started with a foul on redshirt senior Danrad “Chicken” Knowles. Knowles committed his fifth foul with 2:02 left, leaving the Cougars with a small lineup.
Of the Tigers’ six points in overtime, four came from free throws.
Defense for the Cougars proved difficult against the much taller Memphis lineup. The Tigers had 18 offensive rebounds and 47 in total while the Cougars had 12 offensive rebounds and 40 in total.
“The Memphis size and athleticism really bothered us in a lot of ways tonight,” said Sampson. “We went small to start the game, and they started killing us on the offensive board, so we went back big and got control of the game.”
Freshman Tiger K.J. Lawson had a career high showing of 28 points and 16 rebounds. He was responsible for 6 of the Tigers’ offensive rebounds and led his team in assists with five.
The Cougars struggled all game to sink in baskets. They were 26.3 percent (5-19) from beyond the arc and 39.3 percent (24-61) from the field.
“We have a very small margin of error,” Sampson said. “If we shoot poorly, it’s hard for us to win because we’re not a rebounding team.”
Gray led the Cougars with 21 points and added three assists. He went 9-24 from the field, and 2-10 from beyond the arc.
Knowles impressed with one of his best games all season. He put up a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. His putback with only three seconds left in the second half forced the game into regulation.
Robinson finished with 14 points and six rebounds.
The Cougars fall to sixth in conference standings. They travel to Dallas to face off against the Southern Methodist University Mustangs. The Mustangs are 16-4 overall and 6-1 in the conference with their only loss coming from No. 22 Cincinnati.
Tipoff is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. at Moody Coliseum.