“That game is a hard one to explain,” Sanderson said of the 71-51 loss. “I didn’t see it coming.
“We did not play very well. We never got in a flow on either end of the floor. We showed them the first four minutes of the first half and the first 30 seconds of the second half because the players needed to understand why they lost.”
Sanderson showed the video clips before the start of on-court preparations for Memphis.
“In these type games _ Alabama, North Carolina, Baylor and Memphis _ turnovers and offensive rebounds are magnified,” Sanderson said. “Instead of being a six-point game it becomes a 16-point game.
“How we start both halves is very, very important. We didn’t start out very well taking care of the ball or rebounding against Alabama. We have to do those things in order to have a chance.”
Heading into Thursday night’s meeting here at the FedEx Forum with No. 21-ranked Memphis, the final non-conference game of the season, the main key for the Bisons is to keep mistakes to a minimum.
“Memphis is so athletic,” Sanderson said. “They want to score off of you turning the ball over and on offensive stick backs. They want to score off of your mistakes.
“They might pressure and you might not turn it over but the wrong guy might shoot the ball. That is the same thing in their minds as a turnover. It is very important that we understand the right kind of shot that we want when they do press us.”
Game time is 7 p.m. The game will be available on Comcast Sports South.
The Bisons are 7-3 overall. Memphis, from Conference-USA, is 9-2. This is the third time the Bisons have played a team that was nationally-ranked this season starting with the season-opener at North Carolina. Baylor was also ranked when the Bisons played in Waco.
Sanderson has also stressed to his team that no one, non-conference or conference, is holding anything back against them. Alabama elevated its game to a new level. Memphis doesn’t plan to be upset during the holiday season.
“We are going to playing in a great atmosphere against a top 25 team,” Sanderson said. “I told the team that not just in our league, but in non-conference games, we are getting everybody’s best shot. Nobody is sleeping on us because of what we have done this year and last year.”
Sanderson has put most of the responsibility for how the Bisons play squarely on the shoulders of his four seniors _ Josh Slater, Adnan Hodzic, Brandon Brown and Michael Teller.
“We have to play for 40 minutes,” Sanderson said. “That is a process. It takes time to understand.
“I told our team that the best thing we do is offensive basketball. Against Alabama we didn’t do that. When we make turnovers we squander possessions and have fewer chances to do the best thing we do.”
Sanderson has worked his team hard for four days since returning from the Christmas break. He has been happy overall with their level of preparation.
“We know what we have to do,” Sanderson said. “It is a matter of executing it for 40 minutes. We don’t have to play off of the charts but we have to have more quality possessions offensively and defensively.”
Sanderson has liked the way the seniors have performed during the past few practices.
“It is more about what those four seniors do in practice,” Sanderson said. “It is more about their energy and effort than about what they say, though what they say is also important.”
The two teams last met in basketball 75 years ago during the 1934-35 season. The two teams split the series with Memphis winning 33-26 at home on Jan. 18 and Lipscomb winning 43-25 Feb. 15.
On a more current level Memphis is 16-5 against Atlantic Sun Conference teams with East Tennessee State accounting for three of those losses. Memphis has not played an A-Sun team since the 2004-2005 season. Memphis is 12-3 in the last game of a calendar year.
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.