MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - The Memphis Tigers are roaring. With their 16th straight win in the books, the Tigers continue to edge upwards in the national rankings.
The attitudes of the fans and so-called experts have done a 180 since the rocky start in the Bahamas.
On Monday, February 18, Memphis was 11-0 in Conference USA, unbeaten on the road, and their winning streak had them pushing the top 20; Memphis was ranked 21st in the AP Poll.
Those streaks were turning heads everywhere, including on campus, where fans are saying, “Told you so.”
“Now you see what the Tigers really are,” said University of Memphis freshman, Darian Johnson.
“It’s awesome, awesome to win sixteen straight,” said Tigers Head Coach Josh Pastner, “awesome to win eleven in a row on the road.”
Sophomore forward Adonis Thomas was coming off his best scoring game ever against Marshall, but he was thinking ‘team.’
“I want to keep the streak alive,” Thomas told abc24.com, “that streak is the most important thing we have going right now.”
“Our main goal is go to undefeated all through conference play,” said center Tarik Black.
That sounded good to Mary Cay Robinson, who’s been watching Tigers games since she was five, and had her own ideas on the streak.
“They’re actually sharing the ball a lot better than at the beginning of the season in the Bahamas, where things were pretty selfish,” she noted.
Thomas took another view. “It goes back to defense, our defensive intensity has picked up so much.”
One might think all the winning would create privileged attitudes. Not so, said Black.
“Through ups and downs, through winning streaks, through losses, we try to keep the same mentality, the same attitude.”
While Memphis was on a roll, former Tigers coach John Calipari continued to suffer from a rare down year at Kentucky - coming off a 30 point pounding at the University of Tennessee.
“I love Coach Cal,” said Pastner, “and I think 99.9 percent of Memphians love Coach Cal, too.”
“I hate Tennessee,” Robinson told abc24.com, “but I don’t hate them as much as I hate Kentucky.”
So, while Kentucky struggled, the Tigers tried to keep things like winning streaks in perspective.
“We’re proud of ourselves,” Thomas said, “but we don’t want to get overconfident. We want to remain humble and just continue to win.”