Memphis Tigers

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Memphis Tigers

The Memphis Tigers basketball team represents the University of Memphis in NCAA Division I men's college basketball. The Tigers compete in Conference USA, in which they have won five regular season and three conference tournament championships. The team is currently coached by John Calipari. They play home games at FedExForum.

The predecessor of the University of Memphis, West Tennessee State Normal School, first fielded a basketball team in 1920. Zach Curlin began coaching the team in 1924. The Tigers joined the Mississippi Valley Conference in 1928. The team played its early home games at a local high school gym, a local YMCA, and in a room on campus called the "Normal Cage" which allowed only six inches from the court lines to the walls. In 1929, a $100,000 facility on campus named Memorial Gym became the Tigers' home.

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Curlin's last season coaching the Tigers was in 1948, by which time the school had been renamed Memphis State College; it would become Memphis State University in 1957. His successor was McCoy Tarry. In 1951, the new $700,000 Field House gym was opened for Tiger home games. In 1952, John Wallisa became the first Memphis State player to be drafted by the NBA. Forest Arnold became the school's first All-American in 1954. The Tigers made the NCAA tournament for the first time in 1955 under coach Eugene Lambert. Bob Vanatta became the team's coach in 1956 and took the Tigers to the NIT final. Win Wilfong became the team's second All-American in 1957.

In 1962, Dean Ehlers took over coaching duties. The Tigers began playing its home games at the Mid-South Coliseum in 1964. Moe Iba became the team's coach in 1966, the same year the team joined the Missouri Valley Conference.

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Memphis Tigers

Larry Finch played in his first game as a Tiger in 1970, the same year that Gene Bartow took over as head coach. The Tigers won the Missouri Valley Conference titles in 1971 and 1973. During the 1972-73 season, All-American Finch led the Tigers to the NCAA tournament championship game, which the Tigers lost to the UCLA Bruins. Bartow also won the NABC National Coach of the Year award that season. Wayne Yates took over for Bartow in 1974. The Tigers left the Missouri Valley Conference to become one of the inaugural members of the Metro Conference in 1976

Dana Kirk became head coach in 1979. During the 1980s, the Tigers made seven NCAA tournaments and won multiple Metro Conference titles. Keith Lee began playing for the Tigers in 1982, and Memphis was ranked number one in both major national polls for the first time the same year. Lee eventually led the team to its second Final Four appearance in 1985. Only a year later, however, Kirk was forced out after becoming the subject of a criminal investigation. He was also found to have committed many NCAA violations as well; the Tigers were forced to sit out the 1986 NCAA Tournament and were stripped of their Final Four appearance from 1985.

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Former player Larry Finch took over head coaching duties in 1986. One of Finch's first recruits, Elliot Perry, began playing for the team in 1987. In the 1988-89 season, the Tigers set a school record by starting the game against Louisville with a 24-0 run.

In the early 1990s, Anfernee Hardaway and David Vaughn began their careers at Memphis. Other notable Memphis players from the 90s include Cedric Henderson, Michael Wilson and Lorenzen Wright. The 1991-92 season marked a number of changes for the Tigers. The team left the Metro Conference to become part of the Great Midwest Conference and left the Coliseum to make the Pyramid Arena its new home. On February 6, 1993, the school achieved its 1,000 all-time basketball victory. Memphis joined Conference USA in 1995, one year after the school adopted its current name of the University of Memphis. Finch stepped down as head coach in 1997 and Tic Price took over thereafter.

John Calipari was named Memphis' head coach in 2000. Under his leadership, the Tigers won the 2002 NIT championship then made the NCAA tournament in 2003 and 2004 after the school had failed to do so for several years. The Tigers left the Pyramid to play home games in the FedExForum in 2004. The 2005-06 Tigers were led by Darius Washington, Shawne Williams and Rodney Carney and set a school record by going 30-3 during the regular season that was capped by a Conference USA championship. In the 2006 NCAA tournament, the Tigers received a number one seed, and they advanced to the Elite Eight before falling to eventual tournament runner-up UCLA.
Despite losing their top three scorers from the prior season to the NBA and graduation, the 2006-07 Tigers duplicated the previous year's regular season record of 30-3 and again won the Conference USA championship, going undefeated in conference play. The Tigers earned a number two seed in the 2007 NCAA tournament. The Tigers defeated 15 seed North Texas in the first round, 7 seed Nevada in the second round, 3 seed Texas A&M in the Sweet Sixteen, and lost to 1 seed and eventual tournament runner-up Ohio State in the Elite Eight.

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The 2007-08 Memphis Tigers men's basketball team achieved a No. 1 ranking in the Associated Press basketball poll in January of 2008, the school's first No. 1 ranking in the poll in twenty-five years, and went on to win their third straight Conference USA title on March 15th, 2008. Led by First-Team All-American and future No. 1 overall lottery pick Derrick Rose, the team received a No. 1 seed in the 2008 NCAA tournament and defeated No. 16 seed Texas-Arlington in round one, No. 8 seed Mississippi State in round two, and No. 5 seed Michigan State in the Sweet Sixteen. Memphis convincingly defeated No. 2 seed Texas in the Elite 8 round to advance to the school's first Final Four since 1985. Following this win, Memphis went on to beat No. 1 seed UCLA on April 5, 2008, advancing to the National Championship game on April 7, 2008. With this win, Memphis became the first team in NCAA history to achieve 38 wins in a single season.[4] After holding a nine point lead with two minutes and twelve seconds left in regulation, the Tigers lost to Kansas in the National Championship in overtime by the final score of 75-68, becoming the second NCAA runner-up in team history.
The future of Memphis Tigers men's basketball appears to be very bright. The Memphis Tigers feature 5-star rated point guard Tyreke Evans, 4-star rated forward Wesley Witherspoon, 4-star rated forward Angel Garcia, and 4-star rated forward Matt Simpkins. according to
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Memphis Tigers

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