This Saturday, the Memphis Tigers take a trip down memory lane as they play the UAB Blazers in Birmingham. This will be the 50th time in program history the two have met. Despite the Blazers’ 4-3 start to the season, they are looking for a win against the long-time rival.
The Blazers and the Tigers have a very interesting history, to say the least.
The rivalry has become much more obsolete and not as attractive as some of the Tigers’ rivalries, however, it’s probably one of the more influential rivalries in school history. The rivalry began February 6, 1984, when Coach Gene Bartow returned to Memphis as UAB’s head coach. This was the first time since leaving Memphis state. The Tigers beat the Blazers 53-51 in OT at the Collesium.
Despite this being his second game against UAB as head coach, this isn’t Penny’s first rodeo in Bartow Arena. Penny Hardaway faced the Blazers five times in his career as a Tiger. The most interesting part, however, is all five times Hardaway played against the Blazers, they were coached by Gene Bartow. And it only gets more interesting. This is also the same Gene Bartow that coached the Memphis State Tigers in the 1973 National Championship. The same 1973 year that the Tigers were devastated by UCLA (where Bartow also coached after Memphis State). The former coach also was memorable for his controversial recruitment of Memphis’ favorite and former coach, Larry Finch. Even better than that, former player Larry Finch was the head coach for MSU during Hardaway’s time playing as a Tiger.
And with interesting history comes interesting memories.
Even though the Tigers have not faced the Blazers as conference foes since 2013, there have been some entertaining matchups between the two. One of which was the heart-stopping win where the 25-0 Tigers pulled off the win because of a failed last-second shot from the Blazer Lawerence Kinnard. Despite the dramatic last-second win, things started heating up after the game. As the Tigers exited the court, things got ugly between the students and the players.
It should also make for an interesting atmosphere seeing as this will be the first trip to Birgmham for Memphis Guard Ryan Boyce after asking out of his national letter of intent form UAB and signing with his former high school coach.
Even if the Bartow Classic is out of date, the Tigers have another road challenge ahead of them. Saturday they will try to extend their win streak to six.
Come discuss this and everything to do with sports at the Overtime Heroics forums!
New designs in our merch store! Be sure to check out the latest threads!
*Featured photo credit: The Commercial Appeal*