The Memphis Hustle are back in Southaven for the first time since March 2020, as their 2019-20 season was cut short for the COVID-19 pandemic, and the 2020-21 season was abbreviated in the bubble.
Meanwhile, on the other side, the Mexico City Capitanes made their official debut as a G-League team. However, because of travel restrictions, Mexico City operated as the home team in Southaven.
Really cool night to be back in Southaven, I must say.
You can see the energy out on the floor from the get-go, as both teams were flying and scrambling across the floor. The Hustle got going through the strong play of Shaq Buchanan, who did a great job of setting a tone on both ends of the floor with his creation and his defensive energy. They started out a bit slow, but found a groove to score 14 unanswered points to get out to an early lead.
The Capitanes found the groove to get things closer, and it remained back and forth throughout the 1st half.
The Hustle got some solid bench production through the play of Ahmad Caver and Darnell Cowart in the 1st half — building a good 2-man game together off downhill attacks in the pick-and-roll. Buchanan continued to get a heavy dosage of the offense through the 1st half, finishing with 17 points in that span.
The Capitanes came out swinging in the 2nd half, scoring 13 quick points to kick things off. Karim Mane and Ahmad Caver helped the Hustle regain their groove with their offensive aggressio off drives, creating for themselves or for their teammates.
The Hustle entered the 4th quarter down 67-66, and they came out with intensity. They jumped out to a 14-0 run, sparked by defensive tenacity and aggressive offense. They were pressuring out top, blocking shots, and generating deflections — just the epitome of hustle.
The Capitanes ended up cutting the Hustle lead that got up to as much as 15, as Memphis let the foot off the gas, to make it a 3-point game with a minute and a half left. Ultimately, the Capitanes came away with the 95-90 win.
- Shaq Buchanan could be in line for a promotion... If the Murray State product continues to play with this level of offensive creation and defensive tenacity, he won’t finish the season with the G-League. He provided a great spark to this team from the start, and he’s really made noticeable strides in his game since joining the Hustle in 2019.
- Inactive list. Sean McDermott and David Stockton were out due to injury. Two-way players Killian Tillie and Yves Pons were with the main roster in Washington — expect them back soon.
- They’re going to have a fun defense, when locked in. The Hustle’s run in the 4th quarter came in part to a swarming defense. They had good communcation, quick slides, and great help defense. The defensive activity was off the charts. With big guards like Shaq Buchanan and Karim Mane, long wings like Romeo Weems and Reggie Hearn, and mobile big men like Freddie Gillespie and (eventually) Yves Pons — they’re going to have a really fun defense when things get clicking.
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