Hall coming up big for Tigers

With the Tigers leading Charlotte 57-53 and less than three minutes to go, Hall took a charge after the 49ers' Henry Pierre gathered sophomore guard Antonio Barton's layup attempt.

Simply taking the charge wasn't enough for University of Memphis junior forward Ferrakohn Hall.

With the Tigers leading Charlotte 57-53 and less than three minutes to go, Hall took a charge after the 49ers' Henry Pierre gathered sophomore guard Antonio Barton's layup attempt. On the next possession, Hall scrapped to secure a sophomore forward Tarik Black miss and willed in a bucket down low to give the Tigers a 59-53 lead with 2:27 left. The Tigers went on to beat the 49ers, 67-58.

It was an important and gritty sequence late in Saturday night's game, and one that surprised absolutely no one.

"Playing hard, that's what he always does and what he's been giving," sophomore guard Will Barton said. "Leaving his heart out there on the line and not caring about stats, just wanting the team to be successful. He's out there just doing his job. He's another kid I just expect stuff like that from. He works hard."

Hall transferred to Memphis last December, midway through his second season at Seton Hall. Per NCAA rules, Hall was forced to sit out a calendar year and made his Memphis debut on Dec. 17 in an 95-87 loss to then-No. 4 Louisville.

In a short span of five games, Hall has emerged as the Tigers' second-best rebounder, pulling down 5.4 per game. He has 20 rebounds in the past two games and, for a team that has so often been exposed on the block, provides a necessary jolt of energy.

"I like to bang down low," said Hall, who finished with six points, 12 rebounds and three blocks against the 49ers. "Those guys came in trying to hit early, so I knew it was going to be one of those tough kind of games. I love those games."

As a senior at White Station High School in 2009, Hall was recruited by nary a Memphis coach, be it John Calipari or Josh Pastner, and the 6-foot-8 forward signed with Bobby Gonzalez and Seton Hall in the late signing period.

"He's not the same player today as he was coming out of high school," Pastner said. "Going that year and a half in the Big East probably helped him. He's just more mature now and I think it's sometimes one of those things where you stay the course and you're patient and it works out."

It's worked out for Memphis so far, with Hall solidifying himself as a nice complement to sophomore forward Tarik Black on the block. Black, whom Pastner needs to be an effective post man this season, has done a better job of remaining on the floor with Hall by his side in the last several games.

Hall has also vastly improved the Tigers' rebounding efforts. Before Hall became eligible on Dec. 17, the Tigers had been outrebounded in six of their eight games. In the five games since then, Memphis has been outrebounded just once.

While Hall stopped short of saying he was the key ingredient the Tigers were missing before mid-December, there's not much doubt that Memphis is a better team with Hall on the floor.

Memphis is 3-2 with Hall, which isn't spectacular. But in the two games he's started this season, opponents are shooting an average of 23.9 percent. Memphis is also averaging 13 blocks a game since Hall was inserted into the starting lineup Dec. 29 against Robert Morris, undoubtedly a good sign for Pastner and the Tigers as they prepare to enter Conference USA play.

"I just come out there and play hard and put my heart out on the court," Hall said. "What they were missing, I don't know, but I'm here now."


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