It was a smashing debut for 7-foot-1 freshman James Wiseman and No. 14 Memphis on Tuesday night.
Wiseman overwhelmed South Carolina State with 28 points and 11 rebounds in only 22 minutes as the Tigers rolled to a 97-64 win at FedEx Forum in Memphis.
Considered a potential No. 1 overall pick in next year’s NBA Draft, Wiseman did nothing to slow the hype after sitting out both exhibition games with an ankle injury. He hit 11 of 14 field goals and 6 of 7 at the line while ripping down six offensive boards and blocking three shots.
Another freshman, 6-8 forward Precious Achiuwa, added 14 points and eight rebounds for Memphis. The Tigers didn’t play like a team with a rotation comprised almost completely of underclassmen, hitting 54.5 percent of their field-goal attempts and drawing assists on 21 of 36 buckets.
Forward Ian Kinard paced South Carolina State with 13 points and Jahmari Etienne added 11. But the Bulldogs’ top returning scorer, forward Damani Applewhite, managed only six shots and six points.
South Carolina State hung with Memphis for a good chunk of the first half. Etienne’s 3-pointer just over 3 1/2 minutes into the game gave the Bulldogs a 13-8 advantage, and they still led as late as the 7:50 mark when Tariq Simmons canned two foul shots to make it 26-25.
But the Tigers finished the half with a 25-6 run over the last 7:41, starting it with 12 consecutive points. Alex Lomax capped the spurt with consecutive buckets off South Carolina State turnovers.
Damion Baugh drilled consecutive 3-balls in the final 90 seconds of the half, and Wiseman’s foul shot polished off a 9-0 run that sent Memphis to the locker room with a 50-32 lead.
The Tigers led by at least 20 points for the final 14:06, eventually pushing the margin as high as 37 with 3:50 remaining.
The Bulldogs hit only 36.2 percent from the field and were outrebounded 42-25.
—Field Level Media