Another city, another basketball game. We arrived in Memphis this morning, and after wading through Iowa State fans in town for the Bowl game tomorrow, we watched Memphis have an easy time winning over Loyola Maryland.
The FedEx Forum is the stadium used for both the University of Memphis Tigers and the Memphis Grizzlies. Since that was the case, it had a very NBA feel. It was also larger than any of the other arenas we’ve been to.
Though the atmosphere felt professional, Memphis still managed to treat us to the most college-y game yet. This was the first game that we’ve been to that had a band! How exciting! Rather than rap music with questionable lyrics at the breaks, we got to hear an excited band play songs such as “Love Shack” and that Ozzy Osbourne song where they say “Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay.” There was also a mascot, which was infinitely more adorable than the weird Wildcat in Cincy. This Tiger was so cute and cuddly that I tried to figure out a way to bring him home.
There were also cheerleaders and a dance team! I thought the announcer kept calling the dancers the Memphis Pop, but turns out it’s actually the Memphis Pom. The husband coined the phrase “Future Cougars” to describe the team. They did a number of routines, and were actually quite good. They were leaps and bounds better than the Cincy ladies, and I would almost say they’re better than the Illinettes (don’t tell anyone I said that). The hot dog received a solid 7.5 from my hot dog connoisseur, and I skipped the nachos which were the now overly familiar salty goop. SLU, I’m counting on you to provide me with something different.
Our seats were way up in the nosebleeds, and that might’ve contributed to the lack of excitement during the actual game. That and the fact that our seat neighbors spent most of the game turned around talking to their friends behind them. I’m not sure if they had any idea what was going on at any point. The first half proved to be somewhat interesting, and it looked like Loyola Maryland would give Memphis an actual game. At the half, Memphis had the lead, 37-33. This was going to be a much higher scoring game than we were used to.
Memphis pulled away quickly in the second, partially because of the two technical fouls in a row from Loyola. There were also at least two intentional fouls from Loyola, which were part of their 26 total. This meant that Memphis went to the line a lot, and had they made those buckets the game would’ve been wrapped up even quicker. Memphis went to the line a whopping 41 times (I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed a game with that many trips), and they made 29 of those. On the flip side, Loyola went to the line just 17 times. It was fun to see former Illini Stan Simpson in action yet again, and it was nice to see he was as useful for the Tigers as he was for the Illini before transferring.
Thanks to those fouls (Memphis was in the bonus with about 11 minutes left), the game dragged on a wee bit. Despite the lame fans next to us, most people seemed genuinely interested in what was happening on the court. The arena was pretty full, and the attendance was announced at over 16,000. It’s clear that people in Memphis like their basketball.In appreciation, the Tigers employed a proper introduction, which included lasers, and the kind of rumbling music that gets the fans, and the players, truly pumped. So on the whole the atmosphere was the most exciting, but also felt much more like a professional game. It was fun to experience a win for the home team.
Tomorrow is the last stop on our trip, where we’ll revisit the Lobos as they head to SLU. Then, sadly it’ll be time to head back to the real world.