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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Jacksonville State (70) vs. Tennessee Tech (72) 02/13/2016

#32 of 351

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Cookeville, Tennessee. Ever heard of it? Me neither. But here I was in Cookeville on a Saturday night in February. I was driving from Chattanooga to Cookeville accounting for the one hour difference in time. Yes, Cookeville is on Central Standard Time. As I pull  into the parking lot 2 hours two early, I see a parking lot full of cars. My plan was to find the school first and then head off to a local watering hole. Piquing my interest, I pulled into the parking lot and after much difficulty found what I think was the last parking spot. I headed inside to find out that this was the infamous girls/men doubleheader. Knowing somewhere that I heard Tennessee Tech had a good women’s program, I headed to my seat and watched the second half. No commentary for the ladies game will be found here.

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This was a dress in pink night to support a cure for breast cancer as you can see above.

So naturally, the women’s game heads into overtime. I am calculating in my head the return time to Chattanooga (actual time was 1:15AM). The Tech women won so the crowd was in a good mood for the men’s game.

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I am all for getting a free T-shirt thrown by a cheerleader. Although never having caught one during my journey, my dream is to catch one and hand the t-shirt to a child whom I just stepped in front of to catch the t-shirt. The crowd will erupt with mild applause. I will shake it off like this is something I do every day. But the Tennessee Tech folks have an annoying of throwing t-shirts DURING the game not during a time out. The crowd would stand up begging for a t-shirt blocking the view of folks who could care less.

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This was the most exciting game of my journey so far. The scored was tied at 70 with about 7 seconds left. Tech takes the ball down court and shoots a wild three pointer with virtually no time left on the clock. He was fouled in the act. The Tech player sinks 2 out of 3 foul shots and wins the game.

Both teams are in the Ohio Valley Conference which I think is a league made up for teams that no other league wants. But I have noticed that the size of the scoreboard is inversely proportional to the size of the program. The scoreboard was huge and brilliant. OVC – not so much.

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