Nicholls State loses 98-59 at No. 11 Memphis
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Nicholls State coach J.P. Piper wanted to chew out his team after a 39-point loss. He thought better of it when he considered the possible effect on his young players.
Jeremy Smith scored 16 points, but no other Colonel scored in double figures as Nicholls State lost 98-59 at No. 11 Memphis on Saturday.
"I've got a lot of young kids, and I've got to make room for them to experience some of this and grow up," Piper said, later adding: "I have to have some peace about that and not go in there and do damage to my team. We're going to fight another day."
It was a tough lesson for Nicholls State, which was within nine points with under 8 minutes to go in the first half. The Tigers then went on a run that resulted in a 51-29 Memphis lead at intermission.
"We had some young guys on the floor, and we decided it was time to run with the Tigers," Piper said. "We weren't quite up to the task, and we went into the next media (timeout) down 18. It was going to be hard anyway, but that just made it that much harder."
That was the start of the Nicholls State's decline. Memphis continued to pressure on the Colonels (0-4), causing turnovers and preventing them from running their offense. The combination led to Memphis leading by as many as 45 late in the game.
"I hate to lose, and I hate to lose like this," Piper said. "It's a helpless feeling to sit there on that bench and just take that thrashing, and they're raining 3s and dunking the ball in the second half. It looks like we're not out there. I don't like that."
For Memphis, it was an opportunity to shake off the negatives from an embarrassing 101-80 loss at No. 7 Oklahoma State on Tuesday. Austin Nichols scored 20 points to lead five Memphis players in double figures Saturday.
"I feel like we let our guard down at Oklahoma (State), and we're not trying to do that no more no matter who we play against," said Tiger senior guard Joe Jackson, who scored 18 points, making 14 of 15 from the free-throw line.
Michael Dixon had 16 points for Memphis (2-1), while Nick King scored 12 despite going 3 of 12 from the line. Chris Crawford added 11 points.
Nichols, who was 9 of 15 from the field, benefited from the Tigers pounding the ball inside.
"We had a big emphasis on that," Dixon said. "Once we got the ball inside, and they had so many problems on the inside, it was hard for them to guard everything else. We've got a lot of offense on this team and a lot of shooters."
Memphis coach Josh Pastner said he sternly reminded his team this week about their anemic play against Oklahoma State. On Saturday, however, Pastner was much more passive on the sidelines.
"I was on the guys hard, extremely hard the last 72 hours," Pastner said. "I just didn't feel like in the game (Saturday) that they needed me to jump down their throats."