College basketball rankings: Memphis, No. 6 in Top 25 and 1, improves to 5-0 with win vs. Virginia Tech

Landers Nolley led Memphis in scoring last season. This season, five-star freshmen Jalen Duren and Emoni Bates are the Tigers’ top two scorers. They’re a talented trio—one who, believe it or not, scored exactly zero points in the first half of Wednesday night’s game against Virginia Tech.

That probably won’t happen again for the rest of the season.

But even more surprising than the fact that Nolley, Duren and Bates were scoreless against the Hokies in the first 20 minutes was the fact that Memphis still led at halftime despite Nolley, Duren and Bates being scoreless against the Hokies in the first 20 minutes. the Hokies. That was clearly a good sign for the Tigers, all things considered. And while those three never really got going in the second half either, Memphis still managed to beat Virginia Tech 69-61 in the NIT Season Tip-Off semifinals thanks to the Tigers’ last 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 kept Virginia Tech at just 33.9% of shooting from the field, including 33.3% from a 3-point range. The byproduct of that is that, according to KenPom, the Tigers maintained the best-adapted defensive efficiency rating in the country.

Memphis was also number 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 there because of our defense. I’m proud.”

It’s worth noting that the Tigers only turned the ball around 14 times against Virginia Tech, which is great considering they came into play with an offensive turnover rate of 27.2 that was ranked 353rd nationally. DeAndre Williams scored a team-high 16 points and grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds to make up for the bad nights of Duren, Bates and Nolley. So now Memphis — which remains number 6 in the updated CBS Sports Top 25 and 1st daily Thursday morning college basketball rankings — plays Iowa State in Friday’s title game of the NIT Season Tip-off. If the Tigers win that, they’ll be 6-0 . for the first time since the 2010-11 season

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