Landers Nolley led Memphis in scoring last season. This season, five-star freshmen Jalen Duren and Emoni Bates are the Tigers' top two scorers. It's a talented trio — one that, believe it or not, combined to score exactly zero points in the first half of Wednesday night's game against Virginia Tech.
That probably won't happen again all season.
But even more surprising than Nolley, Duren and Bates going scoreless in the opening 20 minutes against the Hokies was the fact that Memphis was still ahead at halftime despite Nolley, Duren and Bates going scoreless in the opening 20 minutes against the Hokies. That was obviously a good sign for the Tigers, all things considered. And even though those three never really got going in the second half either, Memphis still managed to beat Virginia Tech 69-61 in the semifinals of NIT Season Tip-Off thanks to the Tigers' latest overwhelming defensive effort.
"We weren't quite ourselves offensively," said Virginia Tech coach Mike Young, "and Memphis had a lot to do with that."
Memphis held Virginia Tech to just 33.9% shooting from the field, including 33.3% from 3-point range. The byproduct of that is that the Tigers maintained the best adjusted defensive-efficiency rating in the country, according to KenPom.
Memphis was also No. 1 in that category last season.
"I love my team," said Memphis coach Penny Hardaway. "I love what we bring to the table. We can win any kind of game — an ugly game, a good game, and still be right there because of our defense. I'm proud."
It's worth noting that the Tigers only turned the ball over 14 times against Virginia Tech, which is great considering they entered the game with an offensive-turnover percentage of 27.2 that ranked 353rd nationally. DeAndre Williams scored a team-high 16 points and grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds to make up for the off-nights from Duren, Bates and Nolley. So now Memphis — which remains No. 6 in Thursday morning's updated CBS Sports Top 25 And 1 daily college basketball rankings — will play Iowa State in Friday's title game of the NIT Season Tip-off. If the Tigers win that one, they'll be 6-0 for the first time since the 2010-11 season
Top 25 And 1 rankings
|Andrew Nembhard finished with 24 points, six assists and five rebounds in Tuesday's 83-63 win over UCLA. The Zags' next game is Friday against Duke.||--||17-4|
|Ochai Agbaji made four 3-pointers and finished with 25 points in Thursday's 88-59 win over Stony Brook. The Jayhawks' next game is Thursday against North Texas.||--||16-4|
|Zach Edey finished with 21 points and six rebounds in Sunday's 80-74 win over Villanova. The Boilermakers' next game is Friday against Nebraska Omaha.||--||20-1|
|UCLA shot just 34.8% from the field in Tuesday's 83-63 loss to Gonzaga. The Bruins' next game is Saturday against UNLV.||--||17-4|
|Villanova allowed Purdue to shoot 52.7% from the field in Sunday's 80-74 loss to the Boilermakers. The Wildcats' next game is Sunday against La Salle.||--||10-10|
|DeAndre Williams finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds in Wednesday's 69-61 win over Virginia Tech. The Tigers' next game is Friday against Iowa State.||--||16-5|
|Paolo Banchero finished 28 points, eight rebounds and six assists in Monday's 108-81 win over The Citadel. The Blue Devils' next game is Friday against Gonzaga.||--||14-6|
|Timmy Allen finished with 15 points and eight rebounds in Wednesday's 68-44 win over Cal Baptist. The Longhorns' next game is Monday against Sam Houston State.||--||17-3|
|L.J. Cryer got 15 points off the bench in Wednesday's 75-63 win over Arizona State. The Bears' next game is Thursday against VCU.||--||15-5|
|Au'Diese Toney finished with 19 points and nine rebounds in Tuesday's 73-67 win over Cincinnati. The Razorbacks' next game is Sunday against Penn.||--||14-6|
|Jaden Shackelford finished with 20 points and five rebounds in Friday's 86-59 win over Oakland. The Crimson Tide's next game is Thursday against Iona.||--||18-2|
|TyTy Washington finished with 20 points and six rebounds in Monday's 86-61 win over Albany. The Wildcats' next game is Friday against North Florida.||--||14-6|
|Te'Jon Lucas finished with 18 points and seven assists in Wednesday's 81-64 win over Texas Southern. The Cougars' next game is Saturday at Utah.||--||14-9|
|Christian Koloko finished with 22 points and seven rebounds in Sunday's 80-62 win over Michigan. The Wildcats' next game is Saturday against Sacramento State.||--||17-3|
|Adama Sonogo finished with 30 points and six rebounds in Wednesday's 115-109 double-overtime win over Auburn. The Huskies' next game is Thursday against Michigan State.||1||16-6|
|Auburn finished with 14 assists and 15 turnovers in Wednesday's 115-109 double-overtime loss to UConn. The Tigers' next game is Thursday against Loyola Chicago.||1||16-4|
|Kennedy Chandler finished with 14 points and eight assists in Sunday's 89-72 win over North Carolina. The Vols' next game is Friday against Tennessee Tech.||--||17-3|
|Jaren Holmes finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds in Sunday's 70-54 win over Marquette. The Bonnies' next game is Saturday against Northern Iowa.||--||10-11|
|Fabian White Jr. finished with 15 points and seven rebounds in Wednesday's 78-48 win over Oregon. The Cougars' next game is Tuesday against Northwestern State.||--||19-2|
|Virginia Tech only shot 33.9% from the field in Wednesday's 69-61 loss to Memphis. The Hokies' next game is Friday against Xavier.||--||12-8|
|Boogie Ellis finished with 19 points and five rebounds in USC's 98-71 win over Dixie State. The Trojans' next game is Thursday against Saint Joseph's.||--||15-6|
|Phlandrous Fleming Jr. got 19 points off the bench in Wednesday's 71-68 win over Ohio State.The Gators' next game is Sunday against Troy.||--||12-8|
|Malik Hall finished with 24 points and seven rebounds in Wednesday's 63-61 win over Loyola Chicago. The Spartans' next game is Thursday against UConn.||3||14-7|
|Ohio State allowed Florida to grab 16 offensive rebounds in Wednesday's 71-68 loss to the Gators. The Buckeyes' next game is Tuesday against Duke.||--||11-9|
|Jared Rhoden finished with 21 points and seven rebounds in Wednesday's 62-59 over Cal. The Pirates' next game is Sunday against Bethune Cookman.||--||12-9|
|Brandon Murray finished with 15 points and three rebounds in Monday's 83-53 win over Belmont. The Tigers' next game is Friday against Penn State.||NR||12-8|