Josh Pastner’s Memphis Tigers became the latest victim of an unusually large trend that’s taken hold of college basketball this season. On Monday night, his team, a major program, lost a home game to a small-town school from a mid-major conference.
Texas-Arlington 68, Memphis 64.
The Mavericks might be pretty good, though. If the name sounds familiar, you’ll realize this is the team that went up to Ohio State on Friday night and defeated the Buckeyes. Do I hear trendy 13 seed come March? UT-Arlington. Remember the name.
Both the Ohio State and the Memphis tilts were “buy” games, meaning those big-boy programs literally paid UT-Arlington to come to town for the game. Presumably, to gain an easier-than-normal win on their home courts.
So when these buy games backfire, it looks really bad. Schools literally writing checks worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to lose against schools with hyphens and directions in their name. UT-Arlington earned $200,000 between OSU and Memphis’ courteous scheduling invitations.
For Pastner, it’s another ding against him. Some portion of the fan base has turned on him in full and is unlikely to ever reverse heel. This loss coincidentally falls on the same day another big-time coach on the hot seat, Tom Crean, watched his team get downed by Wake Forest out in Hawaii.
Memphis fans know this kind of stumble out of the gate is all too common with the program now. This is the fourth time in five seasons Memphis has started 2-2 or worse under Pastner. In fact, only once in Pastner’s seven seasons have the Tigers owned a 3-0 start (2009-10).
Kevin Hervey did big damage down low for UT-Arlington on Monday night, tallying 22 points and 11 boards. The Mavericks won despite shooting 33.3 percent from the field and committing 10 more fouls (33 to 23) than Memphis. The Tigers were led by Ricky Tarrant, Jr.’s 21 points, but no one else touched double figures in scoring. Memphis shot 30 percent from the field and went 4 for 21 from 3-point range.
And now, in a beautiful twist of irony, Memphis’ next opponent on Friday night happens to be … Ohio State. UT-Arlington coaches are probably all too eager to send each staff the scouting video.