|University||University of Memphis|
|All-time record||1,406-820-1 (.632)|
|Head coach||Penny Hardaway (3rd season)|
|Colors||Blue and Gray|
|NCAA Tournament Runner-up|
|NCAA Tournament Final Four|
|1973, 1985*, 2008*|
|NCAA Tournament Elite Eight|
|1973, 1985*, 1992, 2006, 2007, 2008*|
|NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen|
|1973, 1982*, 1983*, 1984*, 1985*, 1992, 1995, 2006, 2007, 2008*, 2009|
|NCAA Tournament Appearances|
|1955, 1956, 1962, 1973, 1976, 1982*, 1983*, 1984*, 1985*, 1986*, 1988, 1989, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008*, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014|
|Conference Tournament Champions|
|1982*, 1984*, 1985*, 1987, 2006, 2007, 2008*, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013|
|Conference Regular Season Champions|
|1972, 1973, 1982*, 1984*, 1985*, 1995, 1996, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008*, 2009, 2012, 2013|
|* Vacated by NCAA|
The Memphis Tigers men's basketball team represents the University of Memphis in NCAA Division I men's college basketball. The Tigers have competed in the American Athletic Conference since 2013. As of 2020, the Tigers had the 26th highest winning percentage in NCAA history. While the Tigers have an on-campus arena, Elma Roane Fieldhouse (which is still the primary home for Tigers women's basketball), the team's local popularity is such that it has played home games off campus since the mid-1960s. The Tigers moved to the Mid-South Coliseum at the Memphis Fairgrounds in 1966, and then to downtown Memphis at The Pyramid, initially built for the team in 1991 and later home to the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies. In 2004, the Grizzlies and Tigers moved together to another downtown venue, FedExForum. ESPN Stats and Information Department ranked Memphis as the 19th most successful basketball program from 1962 to 2012 in their annual 50 in 50 list.
The predecessor of the University of Memphis, West Tennessee State Normal School, first put a basketball team on the court 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.
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 Fieldhouse gym was opened for Tiger home games. In 1952, John Wallesea 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. Iba's four years running the program are considered the low point in the history of Memphis basketball, with the team suffering 19 and 20 loss seasons before Iba's dismissal. However, the Tigers did not remain down for long.
In 1970, Gene Bartow was named head coach. The 1970 season also saw the first games of Larry Finch and Ronnie Robinson, two all-time greats. Larry Finch scored 24 points in his first appearance as a freshman. In 1971, the Tigers led by Finch and Robinson upset conference rival Louisville. At 11-2, they were ranked #19 after not reaching the Top 20 in a decade. Early in the 1971-1972 season, Memphis State fell in a heart breaker to No. 2 Marquette after leading by five points with five minutes to go. After defeating Louisville in Freedom Hall, the Tigers shared the Missouri Valley Conference title in 1972 with Louisville. Louisville won a playoff to represent the MVC in the NCAA Tournament while the Tigers went to the NIT for their fifth time.
During the 1972-1973 season, seniors Finch and Robinson led the Tigers to one of their most successful seasons. Memphis State won the MVC outright in 1972 after winning 14 straight games. They went to the NCAA tournament where they handily beat South Carolina and Kansas State after a first round bye to reach the Final Four. After beating Providence, the Tigers went to play for the national championship against the UCLA Bruins led by legendary coach John Wooden and led by star Bill Walton. Keeping it close in the first half, the Tigers were overwhelmed in the second half eventually losing by 21, 87-66. Bartow won the NABC National Coach of the Year award that season and Larry Finch was named a consensus All-American. Also on the Finals team was Larry Kenon who went on to be a 2-time All-Star in the NBA. He remains one of the most successful NBA players in Memphis history. Wayne Yates took over for Bartow in 1974 when Bartow left for Illinois. Yates led Memphis State to three straight 20-win seasons, including an NCAA Tournament berth in 1976. 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.
In the 1980s, the Tigers made seven NCAA tournaments and won three Metro Conference titles, amassing a record of 230-87 (.726). 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. However, that same night they were knocked off by Virginia Tech 69-56 in Blacksburg. In the 1983 NCAA Tournament, the Tigers beat Georgetown led by Patrick Ewing, whom Lee dominated in the paint. They lost their next game to top-seed Houston led by Akeem Olajuwon.
After finishing 24-3 in the regular season, the 1984-1985 season proved to be another memorable one in Tiger history. Lee eventually led the team to another NCAA Tournament in 1985. Memphis State beat Penn, UAB, Boston College and Oklahoma to reach the school's second Final Four. They were defeated by eventual champion Villanova and finished the season 31-4. All but one of the 12 players on this team were from Memphis or Shelby County. Lee was named a consensus All-American for the third time in his four-year career. In 1986, 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 1987 NCAA Tournament and were stripped of all of their NCAA tournament appearances from 1982 to 1986, including the 1985 Final Four run. Kirk's top assistant, Larry Finch, one of the leaders of the fabled 1972-73 team, took over head coaching duties in 1986. One of Finch's first recruits, Elliot Perry, began playing for the team in 1987. Perry led Memphis State to the 1988 and 1989 NCAA Tournaments and was drafted to the NBA where he became a successful player. In the 1988-89 season, the Tigers set a school record by starting the game against arch-rival Louisville with a 24-0 run.
In 1990, Finch landed the country's highest rated high school recruit, Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway. The Tigers also moved to the Great Midwest Conference and began playing their home games at the new Pyramid Arena (affectionately known as the "Tomb of Doom") in 1991. Stand-out Hardaway led Memphis State to the 1992 NCAA Tournament, where the Tigers were defeated in the Elite Eight by rival Cincinnati. The following summer, Hardaway was named All-American and earned a chance to train with the Dream Team before the Barcelona Olympics. During the 1992-93 season, Hardaway earned Memphis State's first triple-double and then the first back-to-back triple-doubles in wins over Georgia State and Vanderbilt. On February 6, 1993, the school achieved its 1,000th all-time basketball victory in an upset over No. 4 Cincinnati. After the season, Penny Hardaway left for the NBA Draft where he was selected third overall by the Golden State Warriors. He became the most successful NBA player in history to matriculate from the Memphis basketball program. In 1994, Memphis State changed its name to the University of Memphis.
In 1995, the Memphis team included future NBA players David Vaughn, Cedric Henderson, and Lorenzen Wright, and they made it to the 1995 NCAA Tournament where they lost in the Sweet Sixteen. Memphis joined Conference USA in 1995 as a founding member with long-time rivals Louisville and Cincinnati. Finch stepped down as head coach in 1997 and Tic Price took over thereafter. Price's three years were one of the Tigers' least successful since the 1960s. He was forced to resign just days before the start of the 1999-2000 season after school officials discovered he was involved in an inappropriate relationship with a student at the university.Johnny Jones spent one year as interim head coach while the school looked for a replacement.
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. 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 and reaching a No. 3 ranking during a 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, were ranked as high as No. 5, 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, and 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.
The 2007-08 Memphis Tigers men's basketball team achieved a No. 1 ranking in the Associated Press basketball poll in January 2008, the school's first No. 1 ranking in the poll since 1982, and went on to win their third straight Conference USA title on March 15, 2008. After a month, they lost this ranking when they were defeated by in-state rival and No. 2-ranked Tennessee at home. Led by First-Team All-American Chris Douglas-Roberts and future No. 1 overall 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 Eight 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. After holding a nine-point lead with two minutes and 12 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 team in Memphis history.
The 2008-09 Tigers, led by another freshman guard, Tyreke Evans, again went undefeated in Conference USA and earned a two seed in the 2009 NCAA tournament. The Tigers were defeated by the No. 3-seed Missouri Tigers in the Sweet Sixteen. Evans left after one year and was named NBA Rookie of the Year in 2010, the second straight Tiger to do so after Rose. On March 31, 2009, Calipari resigned to become the head coach at the University of Kentucky. In the months following Calipari's departure, nearly all of the incoming recruits who had committed to play basketball for the University of Memphis decommitted from Memphis and committed to Kentucky or other schools. The recruits included Xavier Henry, DeMarcus Cousins, Nolan Dennis, and Darnell Dodson.
On May 28, 2009, the NCAA formally accused the Tigers of allowing an ineligible player to participate in their games during the 2007-08 season. On August 20, 2009, the NCAA Committee on Infractions announced that Memphis must vacate all 38 wins for that season as well as their appearance in the NCAA tournament and spend three years on probation. The NCAA alleged that Derrick Rose, a Chicago native, had obtained a fraudulent SAT score when another person took the test for him in Detroit, Michigan and his brother Reggie Rose was provided nearly $1,700 in free travel and lodging with the Memphis team. The University of Memphis was not charged with knowingly fielding an ineligible player given that Rose had originally been cleared by the testing company and the NCAA. Rather, the NCAA imposed the penalty on a "strict liability" standard which held that Memphis must vacate their wins regardless of whether the school had any knowledge of wrongdoing by Rose and regardless of the NCAA's original clearance of Rose.
On April 7, 2009, Josh Pastner was named the team's head coach. Pastner was hired as an assistant at Memphis in 2008 after serving as an assistant coach under Lute Olson at Arizona for six years. Pastner gained a reputation as a strong recruiter during his tenure at Arizona. In his first year as coach at Memphis, Pastner brought in Elliot Williams, a transfer from Duke, who led the team in scoring and was drafted to the NBA. Williams was permitted to play his first season after departing Calipari took with him Memphis' top-ranked recruiting class. In 2011 Pastner led the Tigers back to the NCAA tournament for the first time in his coaching career, though they lost in the first round to his former team, Arizona.
During the 2011-12 season, the Tigers announced they were leaving Conference USA to join the Big East Conference starting in 2013 (later renamed the American Athletic Conference). They began the season strong, moving as high to No. 13 in the country before falling out of the rankings (a phenomenon which would become a recurrent theme of the Pastner era). In the last game of the season, Josh Pastner's victory over Tulsa gave him 72 career victories, the most by a Memphis head coach over his first three seasons. Memphis made its second straight NCAA Tournament after winning the Conference USA tournament. An 8-seed, the Tigers lost in the first round to 9-seeded Saint Louis. After the season, sophomore star Will Barton left for the NBA.
In 2012-13, the Tigers, led by CUSA player of the year Joe Jackson, won the Conference USA regular season and tournament titles in their last season in CUSA. The Tigers began competition in the then newly formed American Athletic Conference in 2013. AAC competition was not as kind to the Pastner-led Tigers, as they earned an NCAA tournament berth in only 1 of the team's first 3 seasons in the AAC.
On April 8, 2016, facing mounting criticism in Memphis, Pastner took the job of head men's basketball coach at Georgia Tech. A few days later, the Tigers hired Tubby Smith to take over the head coaching job. Smith had just won the Big 12 coach of the year award as well as some national coaching awards for his season at Texas Tech.
|Frederick Graham (Independent) (1920-1921)|
|W.H. DePriest (Independent) (1921-1922)|
|Lester Barnard (Independent) (1922-1924)|
|Zach Curlin (Independent) (1924-1927)|
|Zach Curlin (Mississippi Valley Conference) (1927-1934)|
|Zach Curlin (Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association) (1934-1942)|
|Zach Curlin (Independent) (1942-1948)|
|1943-44||No team (WWII)|
|McCoy Tarry (Independent) (1948-1951)|
|1950-51||Tarry||17-8||NAIA Elite Eight|
|Eugene Lambert (Independent) (1951-1956)|
|1951-52||Lambert||25-10||NAIA 2nd Round|
|1954-55||Lambert||17-5||NCAA First Round|
|1955-56||Lambert||20-7||NCAA First Round|
|Bob Vanatta (Independent) (1957-1962)|
|1959-60||Vanatta||18-5||NIT First Round|
|1961-62||Vanatta||15-7||NCAA First Round|
|Dean Ehlers (Independent) (1962-1966)|
|Moe Iba (Independent) (1966-1967)|
|1966-67||Iba||17-9||NIT First Round|
|Moe Iba (Missouri Valley Conference) (1967-1970)|
|Gene Bartow (Missouri Valley Conference) (1970-1973)|
|1971-72||Bartow||21-7||12-2||T-1st||NIT First Round|
|Gene Bartow (Independent) (1973-1974)|
|Wayne Yates (Independent) (1974-1975)|
|1974-75||Yates||20-7||NIT First Round|
|Wayne Yates (Metro Conference) (1975-1979)|
|1975-76||Yates||21-9||1-1||4th||NCAA First Round|
|1976-77||Yates||20-9||2-4||T-5th||NIT First Round|
|Dana Kirk (Metro Conference) (1979-1986)|
|1981-82||Kirk||24-5||10-2||1st||NCAA Sweet Sixteen[a]|
|1982-83||Kirk||23-8||6-6||4th||NCAA Sweet Sixteen[a]|
|1983-84||Kirk||26-7||11-3||T-1st||NCAA Sweet Sixteen[a]|
|1984-85||Kirk||31-4||13-1||1st||NCAA Final Four[a]|
|1985-86||Kirk||28-6||9-3||2nd||NCAA Second Round[a]|
|Larry Finch (Metro Conference) (1986-1991)|
|1987-88||Finch||20-12||6-6||T-3rd||NCAA Second Round|
|1988-89||Finch||21-11||8-4||T-2nd||NCAA First Round|
|1989-90||Finch||18-12||8-6||4th||NIT First Round|
|1990-91||Finch||17-15||7-7||T-4th||NIT Second Round|
|Larry Finch (Great Midwest Conference) (1991-1995)|
|1991-92||Finch||23-11||5-5||T-3rd||NCAA Elite Eight|
|1992-93||Finch||20-12||7-3||2nd||NCAA First Round|
|1994-95||Finch||24-10||9-3||1st||NCAA Sweet Sixteen|
|Larry Finch (Conference USA) (1995-1997)|
|1995-96||Finch||22-8||11-3||1st (White)||NCAA First Round|
|1996-97||Finch||16-15||10-4||T-1st (White)||NIT First Round|
|Tic Price (Conference USA) (1997-1999)|
|1997-98||Price||17-12||12-4||1st (National)||NIT Second Round|
|Johnny Jones (Conference USA) (1999-2000)|
|Johnny Jones:||15-16 (.366)||7-9 (.438)|
|John Calipari (Conference USA) (2000-2009)|
|2000-01||Calipari||21-15||10-6||T-2nd (National)||NIT 3rd Place|
|2001-02||Calipari||27-9||12-4||1st (National)||NIT Champions|
|2002-03||Calipari||23-7||13-3||1st (National)||NCAA First Round|
|2003-04||Calipari||22-8||12-4||T-1st||NCAA Second Round|
|2005-06||Calipari||33-4||13-1||1st||NCAA Elite Eight|
|2006-07||Calipari||33-4||16-0||1st||NCAA Elite Eight|
|2008-09||Calipari||33-4||16-0||1st||NCAA Sweet Sixteen|
|John Calipari:||252-69 (.785)||117-25 (.824)|
|Josh Pastner (Conference USA) (2009-2013)|
|2009-10||Pastner||24-10||13-3||2nd||NIT Second Round|
|2010-11||Pastner||25-10||10-6||4th||NCAA Second Round|
|2011-12||Pastner||26-9||13-3||1st||NCAA Second Round|
|2012-13||Pastner||30-4||16-0||1st||NCAA Third Round|
|Josh Pastner (American Athletic Conference) (2013-2016)|
|2013-14||Pastner||24-10||12-6||T-3||NCAA Third Round|
|Josh Pastner:||167-73 (.696)||82-36 (.695)|
|Tubby Smith (American Athletic Conference) (2016-2018)|
|Tubby Smith:||40-26 (.606)||19-17 (.528)|
|Penny Hardaway (American Athletic Conference) (2018-present)|
|2018-19||Hardaway||22-14||11-7||5th||NIT Second Round|
Postseason invitational champion
The Tigers have appeared in the NCAA Tournament 26 times. Their overall record is 34-26. However, wins in 1982-1986 and 2008 have been vacated.
|1955||-||First Round||Penn State||L 55-59|
|1956||-||First Round||Oklahoma City||L 81-97|
|1962||-||First Round||Creighton||L 83-87|
National Championship Game
|1976||-||First Round||Pepperdine||L 77-87|
W 67-66 OT
|1989||#5||First Round||DePaul||L 63-66|
|1993||#10||First Round||Western Kentucky||L 52-55|
L 91-96 OT
|1996||#5||First Round||Drexel||L 63-75|
|2003||#7||First Round||Arizona State||L 71-84|
National Championship Game
L 75-68 OT
|Cal State Northridge
|2011||#12||Second Round||Arizona||L 75-77|
|2012||#8||Second Round||Saint Louis||L 54-61|
* = vacated by NCAA
The Tigers have appeared in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) 18 times. Their combined record is 21-17 and they were NIT champions in 2002.
|1960||First Round||Providence||L 70-71|
|1961||Quarterfinals||Holy Cross||L 69-81|
|1967||First Round||Providence||L 68-77|
|1972||First Round||Oral Roberts||L 74-94|
|1975||First Round||Oral Roberts||L 95-97|
|1977||First Round||Alabama||L 63-86|
|1990||First Round||Tennessee||L 71-73|
|1997||First Round||UNLV||L 62-66|
3rd Place Game
Memphis has had 8 players chosen as All-Americans by the four sources used by the NCAA to determine consensus teams, the Associated Press, the United States Basketball Writers Association, the National Association of Basketball Coaches and The Sporting News (which replaced the United Press International in 1998). Three players have been unanimous first team selections (Keith Lee, Anfernee Hardaway, and Chris Douglas-Roberts). Keith Lee was the only Tiger to be selected more than once, eventually being selected three of his four years at Memphis.
According to the program's records, the school recognizes the following bodies for their selection of All-America teams: UPI, Converse, ESPN, Associated Press, Basketball Times, Basketball Weekly, USBWA, The Sporting News, Scripps-Howard, Wooden Award, CBSSports.com, FOXSports.com, Collegehoops.net, Rivals.com, NBC, NABC, College Sports, Collegeinsider.com, Sports Illustrated, NaismithLives.com and Rupp Trophy. They recognize all levels including honorable mentions and freshman teams.
The University of Memphis currently recognizes 38 players as All-Americans:
|1971-72||Larry Finch||Missouri Valley|
|1972-73||Larry Kenon||Missouri Valley|
|Penny Hardaway||Great Midwest|
|2003-04||Antonio Burks||Conference USA|
|2005-06||Rodney Carney||Conference USA|
|2007-08||Chris Douglas-Roberts||Conference USA|
|2011-12||Will Barton||Conference USA|
|2012-13||Joe Jackson||Conference USA|
Since the NBA Draft began in 1947, 50 players from Memphis have been drafted, with an additional four signed as undrafted free agents. Of the 50 drafted players, 28 played in at least one NBA (or ABA) game. Memphis has produced 13 first-round picks, including 8 top-ten picks and one number-one pick (Derrick Rose). Three former Tigers have been named NBA All-Stars: Larry Kenon (twice), Penny Hardaway (4 times), and Derrick Rose (3 times). Three have gone on to win the NBA Championship: Win Wilfong with the St. Louis Hawks in 1958, William Bedford with the Detroit Pistons in 1990, and Earl Barron with the Miami Heat in 2006. In 2010, Memphis became the second college to produce two consecutive NBA Rookie of the Year winners: Derrick Rose in 2009 and Tyreke Evans in 2010 (the first being North Carolina with winners Walter Davis in 1978 and Phil Ford in 1979). In 2011, Rose became the first former Tiger to be named the NBA Most Valuable Player. Many Memphis players since the 1960s that have gone undrafted or had unsuccessful NBA careers have also played in professional leagues in Europe, Asia and/or Latin America.
currently active players are in bold
|Players drafted but never played|
|Jim Hackaday||1959||3||17th||Philadelphia Warriors|
|Orby Arnold||1959||7||53rd||St. Louis Hawks|
|George Price||1960||8||58th||New York Knicks|
|Lowery Kirk||1961||4||34th||Cincinnati Royals|
|Hunter Beckman||1963||7||58th||Cincinnati Royals|
|George Kirk||1964||5||42nd||Cincinnati Royals|
|Bob Neumann||1964||10||83rd||Cincinnati Royals|
|James Douglas||1971||16||226th||Buffalo Braves|
|Doug Holcomb||1972||6||94th||Boston Celtics|
|Bill Cook||1976||3||49th||Washington Bullets|
|Marion Hillard||1976||4||65th||Washington Bullets|
|James Bradley||1979||2||35th||Atlanta Hawks|
|Rodney Lee||1979||8||150th||Detroit Pistons|
|Dennis Isbell||1981||5||100th||San Diego Clippers|
|Otis Jackson||1982||8||174th||New Jersey Nets|
|Chris Faggi||1982||8||179th||San Antonio Spurs|
|Bobby Parks||1984||3||58th||Atlanta Hawks|
|Phillip Haynes||1984||6||121st||Los Angeles Clippers|
|Baskerville Holmes||1986||3||68th||Milwaukee Bucks|
|Dwight Boyd||1988||3||66th||Denver Nuggets|
|Robert Dozier||2009||2||60th||Miami Heat|
The University of Memphis has retired nine jerseys.