Houston (72) vs.Memphis (71) 02/26/17

#48 of 351  14% complete

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Is it possible for a city to overshadow a college basketball game? Can the sights of Graceland, Sun Records and Beale St. make a Memphis basketball game inconsequential?

Well almost! On this second game of this two game whirlwind trip to Mississippi and Tennessee, the game was exciting from start to finish. But I digress.

Memphis was a three hour ride from my friend’s house in Madison, Mississippi. We started out after the Ole Miss game on Friday afternoon to shack up at a Days Inn across from Graceland. The place was adorned with Elvis memorabilia. We unfortunately came at a bad time because the whole Graceland complex was in transition. A new visitor’s center was opening up on March 1st in a huge building behind the hotel so many of the museums were closed due to the move. Even parts of Graceland were closed however thee was much to see. As the tram took us over the road, it was chilling to walk through the front door that Elvis went through many times. Here are some pictures inside Graceland:

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The next stop was a tour of Sun Records. We stood in the room where Elvis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis recorded. Elvis recorded his first record here as birthday present for his mother. It was well  preserved and you feel the spirits of the rock and roll legends singing into the ancient microphones.

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So on to the game. The FedEx Forum is one block away from Beale St. the birthplace of blues. With some time to kill before the game, we spent the afternoon listening to a blues duo at Silky O’Sullivan’s

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The FedEx Forum is the home of the NBA Memphis Grizzlies and Memphis Tigers. This arrangement allows beer to be served which is a good thing. Not many teams call an NBA arena as their only home venue. Georgetown at the Verizon Center comes to mind. Although one can enjoy the amenities afforded from an NBA arena (so much food), there is the fear that the size of the arena vs. the size of the crowd takes away from the ambiance of college basketball. Curtains at the higher levels does nothing for the atmosphere. However, today was an exception. The upper levels were mostly filled and the crowd was loud.

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There were many choices to eat at the Forum as you can see below. Craft beer booths were plentiful throughout the arena.  I chose the brisket at the Rendezvous and was not disappointed.

 

I secretly rooted for Houston throughout the game because a loss for Memphis would help Uconn’s place in the AAC standings. Houston started out strong but Memphis made a terrific comeback. A last second shot by Memphis bounded off the rim preserving the victory for Houston

I can not say enough about Houston guard Damyean Dotson. This guy has destroyed UConn this year and did the same to Memphis tonight with 31 points. He is a pure shooter who does not miss from anywhere on the floor. He is a sure first rounder come draft time. I am looking forward to seeing all the AAC teams next week in Hartford at the AAC league torunament.

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So as you guessed, we ended back on Beale St. after the game at B.B. King’s place eating more brisket. Goodnight Memphis and  I will be back!

This is the last college basketball game of my third year in Operation 351. I hope that everyone has a great March Madness and terrific summer.God willing,  I will see you again in November.

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Missouri (77) vs. Ole Miss (80) 02/25/17

#47 of 351  13% complete

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Ole Miss is all about football like most of the teams in the SEC. With the exception of Florida and Kentucky, the SEC has had limited success in the March madness world. The Walk of Champions serves as the starting point for the football team as they march towards the football stadium located across from the basketball arena. The grove is full of tailgaters that cheer wildly and celebrate the weekend of football at Ole Miss.

You will see no such sights today at the Ole Miss basketball game. However, I was impressed by the spirit of the crowd. Ole Miss is currently on the bubble and needed a win today against the weaker Missouri Tigers. But first a walk through the campus on this beautiful February day was in order.

 

Oxford is your typical college town that deserves a walk around before the game. The court house is surrounded by small shops and restaurants. I had BBQ chicken  and beans at the Ajax Diner. My two friends who were Ole Miss fans remarked that it was strange seeing the grove completely empty. As we drove in, the street was lined with cars watching an Ole Miss baseball game. A quick note should you ever visit Mississippi: Do not ask for a “grinder”, ask for a “sub”. Do not ask for a Coke. Coke refers to the general term for soda. You will be asked what kind of Coke.

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2017-02-25 15.17.58.jpgThe Pavilion was built in 2016 and is a great arena to watch a basketball game. We sprung for the Pavilion ticket costing $75 which gave us access to a buffet lounge and center court seats. We had unlimited popcorn and soft drinks. Before the game, everyone sings the Hotty Toddy song:

“Are You Ready?

H*** Yeah! D*** Right!

Hotty Toddy, Gosh Almighty,

Who The H*** Are We? Hey!

Flim Flam, Bim Bam

Ole Miss By D***!”

For more information on this unique cheer:

http://www.al.com/sports/index.ssf/2013/09/what_is_a_hotty_toddy_and_why.html

Ole Miss continues the beloved seating arrangement where the students are down close. I love seeing this as a slap in the face of the fat cat fans who have season tickets owned by big corporations.

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Do you see in the picture above a gentleman dressed in denim seated to the left of the all brown clothed female in the front row? The sixth from the right? You won’t recognize him from this distance but he is a big movie star who is a regular at Ole Miss games. It helps talking to friendly folks seated around us especially after I tell them about my crazy quest. Okay the gentleman is Morgan Freeman.

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The place is a step above your typical college arena. There are so much variety with places to eat that you will have a tough time deciding what to eat. Below are some of the eateries:

 

The game was back and forth the entire game but Missouri surprisingly held on till the end. My player of the game was Ole Miss Deandre Burnett a 6′ 2″ guard who lit up the Tigers for 28 points. I was also impressed by freshman Missouri guard Frankie Hughes who was very hot from the three point stripe.

A first for me was a cellphone light display by the fans. I have seen this at concerts but never at a basketball game.

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A final shout out to the scoreboard! It was high def and simple to follow. On to Graceland!

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