Saturday’s highly anticipated matchup in Nashville between No. 18 Tennessee and Memphis did not take place. Just about an hour before tip-off, the game was called off due to two positive COVID tests on the Memphis roster.
Although it was uncertain in the moment due to the lack of communication on the side of Memphis, there has been some more information revealed as to why the game was canceled.
According to an article by Jason Munz of the Commerical Appeal, it was Memphis’ decision on Saturday morning to not play the game.
“We simply didn’t have anywhere near a reasonable amount of players to play,” a source told the Commerical Appeal on Saturday. “We’re talking down to, like, four or five.”
Additionally, according to the article, “Memphis executive associate athletics director Adam Walker told The Commercial Appeal two Memphis players tested positive for COVID-19. Due to contact tracing, the rest of the team was ruled out due to protocols. A source said an unspecified player woke up Saturday not feeling well and subsequently tested positive. The player’s roommate was tested and was also positive.”
The article then goes on to state that although the two players are still unnamed, Emoni Bates, Jalen Duren, and DeAndre Williams were not among the players believed to have tested positive.
After the cancellation, Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes said that the Vols were informed about some potential trouble brewing within the Memphis locker room at about 9:25 a.m. for the game at 11:00 a.m. CT. Before the season, Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway stated that “probably 90 percent” of his players were vaccinated against COVID-19.
According to Munz in the article, the Memphis team was involved in a short celebration in Nashville on Friday night before the game.
“A group of Memphis fans and supporters, along with incoming university president Bill Hardgrave, gathered at The Westin Nashville on Friday night,” Munz said for The Commercial Appeal. “Following the Tigers’ shootaround, the team made a brief 10-minute appearance at the event, greeting fans before returning to their respective hotel rooms, according to two people who attended the event.”
According to the source commenting to The Commercial Appeal, the Tigers’ team never left the hotel on Saturday morning. However, the cancellation announcement came down as many Memphis assistants, managers, and staff members were finishing up the set-up process at Bridgestone Arena.
Tennessee will be back in the court this Wednesday night in Knoxville. The Vols will host No. 8 Arizona at 6:00 p.m. ET as the eighteenth-ranked Volunteers take the court once again.