The Memphis Tigers men’s basketball team opened up the season against Jackson State with a 94-77 victory inside FedExForum Monday night.
The Tigers are without head coach Penny Hardaway for the first three games because of a recruiting violation he committed in the 2021-22 season. Assistant coach Rick Stansbury, who has 442 career wins as a Division I head coach will step up to lead the team.
Here are three takeaways from Monday’s win
The Tigers have options
Memphis had five players in double-digit scoring. Senior forward David Jones scored 15 points on 4-for-7 shooting from the 3-point line, Jordan Brown scored 11 points off the bench, and Malcolm Dandridge and Caleb Mills each had 10 points.
Jaykwon Walton and Jones showed that they can step up at any moment. Walton got off to a hot start in the first half to give the Tigers a 47-36 lead at halftime. Jones shot back-to-back three-pointers halfway through the second half to extend the Tigers lead to 20 points. The Tigers shot 39.3% from three-point range, and look to be a very good perimeter shooting team.
Last year, Memphis relied heavily on its top two scorers, Kendric Davis and DeAndre Williams, but this team is a bit different. Many players can take over the game at any moment, whether it be via scoring on the offensive end or exploding on the defensive side. Brown in particular showed a lot of confidence to block shots and rebound.
As a team, the Tigers totaled 21 assists and 15 steals. Jahvon Quinerly led the Tigers with four assists and the bench combined for 12 assists on the night.
Jaykwon Walton impresses
Walton scored the first seven points to get the Tigers going offensively. He ended the first half with 17 points and shot 63% from the field for the game, showing his ability to score in various ways. He went 3-for-4 from the 3-point line, recorded five rebounds and converted a perfect 2-of-2 from the free-throw line.
Walton led all scorers with 19 points despite slowing down in the second half. His offense wasn’t the only factor in the Tigers’ win over Jackson State. Walton stepped up on the defensive end with three steals on the night. He was stunning in the season’s first game, being able to score at will.
“Just taking good looks and open shots,” he said. “I was just trying to find my teammates to tell them if I’m going to swing one more so I can score the ball.”
Walton brings the confidence and energy to the team that will be useful for Memphis going forward.
During Memphis’ two exhibition games, we saw the Tigers start Mills and Brown. The season opener lineup consisted of Quinerly, Walton, Jones, Nick Jourdain and Dandridge.
Brown, a 6-foot-11 Louisiana transfer, scored 11 points in 21 minutes off the bench and grabbed five rebounds. Mills scored 10 points and led the Tigers with seven rebounds.
The Tigers start the season 1-0 and will face off against Missouri on the road on Friday.
Missouri defeated Arkansas-Pine Bluff 101-79 at home to start the season 1-0.