It has been advocated for years that a commissioner of college basketball be appointed. There has been been a name bandied about: star commentator and former Duke star Jay Bilas. Who knows what his duties would be? Notwithstanding, he would have had his hands full after the Yale-Memphis debacle in Memphis last night before 14,656 at FedEx Forum.
Memphis beat a game and tenacious Yale team, 109-102, in double overtime. It had help from the highly partisan crowd. It had more help from the officials.
Yale was whistled for 40 fouls and on the strength of that, Memphis took 56 free throws. Memphis was whistled for only 22. That is a huge differential in any sport.
Pick your poison. Was it the calls on Eric Monroe after he was clearly fouled, or the call to decide the game in the first overtime against Azar Swain, who was whistled for a block when he stood stationary, leading to a game-tying free throw by the Tigers? Doesn’t matter much as the Elis had to battle a young and talented team on the road, as well as three officials all night.
Yale made five straight threes in the first half but still trailed the athletic Tigers, 47-45, at the break.
The Bulldogs, despite being narrowly outrebounded, came out hot in the second half and shot 60.9 percent.
Yale held leads at the end of regulation and the first overtime, but free-throw shooting brought Memphis back each time to tie.
Yale was too depleted in the third overtime, as five Elis had fouled out by then.
The Bulldogs were led in scoring by Alex Copeland, who had 22 points, most from long distance and 16 of them in the overtime sessions. Miye Oni had 15 points and eight rebounds and Jordan Bruner, looking fully healed from his injury last season had 13, which included one miraculous tip-in.
Tyler Harris led Memphis with 22 points, including several key free throws and Jeremiah Martin added 20. Memphis is coached by former Memphis and NBA great, Penny Hardaway.
The good and bad news for coach James Jones is that he had to play 12 players.
Yale is now 1-1 and plays at Vermont Wednesday night. Vermont gave Kansas all it could handle in the first half last week on the road.
Memphis is now 2-1, with its only loss to LSU in Hardaway’s first season helming the Tigers.