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Memphis loses again, blowing 16 point lead to No. 6 Louisville

Dec 15, 2012, 5:45 PM EDT

Joe Jackson, Chane Behanan, Russ Smith

Oh, Memphis.

It’s always something with those guys.

Saturday’s defeat will go down as one of the most painful in recent Tiger memory.

You see, Memphis was taking on their old Conference USA foe Louisville, a team they just so happen to have a quite storied and intense rivalry with. And the Tigers spent the first ten minutes of the game looking like they finally figured out how to play up to their talent level, jumping out to a 25-9 lead that included a pair of “I gotta rewind that” dunks from DJ Stephens.

And while Louisville made a run late in the first half to cut the lead to one, Memphis had an answer. They pushed it back up to seven at the half and, after a transition dunk from Geron Johnson, to 54-44 with just over 12 minutes left. That’s when it all started to unravel for the Tigers. Lousiville would hit three straight threes and go on a 15-0 run in three minutes, erasing the deficit and taking a 57-54 lead that they would never relinquish, doing it all while Russ Smith was battling a sprained ankle.

When it was all said and done, Memphis had blown their chance at knocking off the No. 6 team in the country, losing 87-78.

It’s the same old story for the Tigers. Mental errors. Poor decision-making. Getting flustered by tough calls.

Here’s the perfect example. Joe Jackson had 23 points and eight assists on 7-9 shooting from the field, which, on the surface, would look like easily the best game he’s played all year long. He also had eight turnovers, exactly one-third of the 24 turnovers the Tigers had on the game. Tarik Black was also terrific, finishing with 21 points on 9-11 shooting. But he only had two rebounds on the afternoon.

The frustrating part about this loss is that it is further proof that Memphis can play with anybody in the country, that they have the talent to beat anyone in the country.

But there is a reason that Josh Pastner has never beaten a top 25 team at Memphis (he’s now 0-10), and it’s not quite as simple as saying “because he can’t coach”.

‘Winning’ is a skill. Being a ‘winner’ is a mindset, an attitude, a confidence.

And Memphis simply doesn’t have ‘it’.

Any of ‘it’.

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