When Memphis paused its men's basketball season Feb. 10 due to COVID-19 issues within the program, coach Penny Hardaway hinted it might be a while before the Tigers could play again.
"We look forward to getting back into action when it is determined to be safe," he said. "We are absolutely committed to ensuring the health and safety of everyone involved."
Memphis' coronavirus break lasted 10 days and four games, but it ended Saturday with the team's first full practice. The Tigers will return to the court Wednesday night with an American Athletic Conference home game against Tulane.
At 12-6 overall and 8-3 in the conference, Memphis will need a strong finish to have a chance at securing a bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers currently aren't even on most "first four out" or "next four out" lists, meaning their margin of error is slim. Aside from a home date with No. 12 Houston to end the regular season, the schedule doesn't offer opportunities for wins that will move the meter with the selection committee.
The Tigers' most recent game was a 66-59 win Feb. 6 over East Carolina, their third straight triumph and sixth victory in seven games. They have built their success on defense and rebounding, holding opponents to an average of 62.9 points per game and owning a plus-6.2 advantage on the boards.
Virginia Tech transfer Landers Nolley leads Memphis in scoring at 13.8 ppg, making 40 percent of his 3-point attempts. Five other players average between 7.1 and 10.8 and 7.1 ppg.
As for Tulane (9-9, 4-9), it's coming off an 84-81 home loss Saturday to Central Florida. The outcome wasted a career-high 30-point outing from Jaylen Forbes, who needed just 13 field-goal attempts to get there thanks to 5-of-8 shooting from the 3-point line.
Forbes has become a go-to guy, leading the team with 16.3 ppg and hitting 36.1 percent of his 3-pointers. Jordan Walker contributes 12.8 points and 4.4 assists per game for the Green Wave, who are shooting just 38.2 percent from the field this season.
The teams met Dec. 16 in New Orleans, with Lester Quinones scoring a game-high 20 points to lead Memphis to an 80-74 victory.
--Field Level Media