Auburn's defense has saved the team a few times already this year, but the athleticism of Memphis and guard Kendric Davis was too much for the Tigers of the Plains in a tough loss during Holiday Hoopsgiving.

Head coach Bruce Pearl had no answers for the attack designed by Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway, and Auburn’s offense sputtered in an 82-73 loss to Memphis.

“This is the first time that defense didn't carry the day for us. I knew the offense would be challenged, but we weren't very well-prepared,” said Pearl. “We didn't play with the effort and energy we have on defense. I have to take ownership of that. It's on me.”

Auburn shot poorly from the floor (38%) and from beyond the arc (25%), while a solid showing at the charity stripe (79%) might have kept the Tigers in the game before Hardaway's offense took off. This was Auburn’s fifth game of the season shooting 40% or lower, and while a combination of tenacious defense, size on the glass and fast break opportunities have led to Auburn victories in each of those games, the same could not be said in Atlanta.  

Memphis shot 50% from the floor, and while the Tigers of the AAC spent most of their time attacking the paint, they were 4-of-11 from beyond the arc and were solid at the free-throw line (72%).

Kendric Davis led the way for Memphis with 27 points, nine rebounds and six assists in 38 minutes of action. The ironman for the Tigers was joined in leading the offense by DeAndre Williams with 16 points and Alex Lomax with 13 points.

“Their speed and quickness bothered us, so we needed to be bigger, stronger and more physical. And we weren't,” Pearl said after the game.

Auburn’s biggest issues came in the paint, which is rare for a team that has been dominant on the glass and is one of the best shot-blocking teams in the country. Auburn was outrebounded 43-32 and gave up 50 points in the paint while managing just two blocks.  

After trailing 38-32 at the half, Auburn fell behind by double digits in the second half. With time winding down, the Tigers mounted a small comeback, closing the gap to 73-65. 

"I've watched a ton of Auburn games. They can be down by 10 with four minutes left and win by 10. I felt the momentum shift,” said Hardaway.

However, a missed Chris Moore layup led to a technical foul for Bruce Pearl, giving Memphis a 10-point lead again and putting an end to the Tigers’ hopes. 

Moore finished the game with 12, and Auburn had four players in double figures, but that quartet shot a combined 16-of-39 from the floor and 3-of-13 from three. 

“We're definitely going to go back home and look at all our mistakes,” Moore said. “But we've got to have a short-term memory.”

Auburn will be back inside Neville Arena on December 14 for Toys for Tots Night. The Tigers will square off with Georgia State in a midweek contest.

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