That’s what happens when you have the top recruiting class in the nation.
Wiseman was sidelined because of eligibility issues, but Memphis hardly missed him in bouncing back from its first defeat of the season, an 82-74 loss to Oregon on Tuesday night.
“His presence is huge. Seven-footer in the paint. His dominance obviously wasn’t felt,” Quinones said of not having the 7-foot-1 Wiseman. “I feel like other guys stepped up.”
“We understand James is not playing right now,” Achiuwa added, “which hurts the team in a way because he’s a big part of the team. But this is an opportunity for other guys to play.”
Wiseman was declared ineligible because Memphis coach Penny Hardaway helped with the family’s moving expenses from Nashville to Memphis two years ago when Hardaway was coach at East High School. Wiseman’s status is in limbo while the NCAA considers disciplinary action.
“We don’t want to change too much because we know he’s going to be back earlier than later,” Hardaway said after moving Achiuwa into the center spot vacated by Wiseman. “The guys can just slide over. They already understand the rotations. They understand the offensive side and the defensive side of what we want. We’re not going to change too much.”
Alcorn State’s zone initially took Memphis out of any flow, the Tigers choosing long passes across the top of the defense and struggling to get the ball inside. That kept the Braves in the game near the midway point of the first half.
The Memphis defense eventually put pressure on the Braves, leading to 16 Alcorn State turnovers in the half. Memphis put together a 24-3 run to close the half and carry a 52-24 lead into the break. The lead would swell to 53 in the second half.
“We didn’t follow the game plan,” Braves coach Montez Robinson said. “I thought if we followed the game plan — which we did in the first four-to-five minutes of the game — and stuck to that, it may have been a different outcome. Not knowing what the outcome would be, but it would have been different.
“It wouldn’t have been a 40-to-50-point game.”