Following an 82-79 loss at Georgia on Dec. 1, Memphis coach Penny Hardaway compared his group to an AAU team.
"I'm really gutted from looking at this," he told reporters. "We look like an AAU team. It looks really bad, and I don't really understand what these guys are thinking."
Three days later, following a 67-63 loss at Ole Miss, Hardaway said the vibe in the Memphis locker room has been "miserable."
"We've got so much negativity in our locker room with veterans being jealous," Hardaway told The Athletic.
If the results raised eyebrows, the quotes sent the college basketball world into overdrive. The tweets and texts all had a similar theme to them: What the heck is going on at Memphis? Who's at fault? Can it be fixed? Is everyone overreacting?
It's only Dec. 9, but Memphis' season is already at a crossroads. After being ranked No. 12 to start the season, the Tigers are an unranked 5-3, on a three-game losing streak and have games against Murray State, Alabama and Tennessee in the next week and a half. By the end of that stretch, this discussion could feel irrelevant, prescient or something in between.
To get a handle on what's happening with the Tigers, we spoke to a handful of opposing coaches and NBA scouts.
The offense is a mess
Memphis brought back three starters from last season's NIT champion, and added two top-five recruits and a couple of impact players from the transfer portal. It stood to reason the Tigers' offense would improve just by having more talented scorers on the floor.
That hasn't happened. Memphis has scored fewer than one point per possession in four of its past five games, it ranks near the bottom of the national rankings in turnover percentage and the Tigers are not getting enough production from the perimeter.