Jackson State basketball tips off the 2023-2024 men’s basketball season on Monday night with a very talented Memphis basketball.
Mo Williams is set to begin his second year at JSU after a 14-19 finish in his inaugural campaign with his hometown HBCU. He returns 11 letter-winners, including all five starters from a season ago. That includes Ken Evans Jr. and Coltie Young, double-figure scorers from last year.
Monday night’s game will be the first of 13 consecutive on the road for Jackson State, which won’t play a home game until it hosts Alcorn State on Jan. 6.
Penny Hardaway’s Memphis squad is coming off a 26-9 season in 2022-23. It won the American Athletic Conference Tournament, knocking off a top-ranked Houston team before falling to Florida Atlantic in the Round of 64 of the NCAA Tournament.
Memphis will bring a considerable amount of talent to the table, much of it will be new. The program has had to replace 13 members of that team, and brought in 10 transfers. Only 10 percent of its scoring from last year will return. It will also be missing several key pieces it expected to have on hand. Big man DeAndre Williams will not be on the field as the NCAA has denied the 27-year-old eligibility for another year. It will also be without Mikey Williams, the highly-regarded prospect from California who is currently not with the team has he deals with legal issues.
Though the game will serve as the season-opener for both programs, Memphis has already played against two HBCUs. Memphis played exhibitions against Division II SIAC programs Lane College and Lemoyne-Owen, winning those games 106-49 and 104-63, respectively.
Monday night’s matchup between the two programs will be the 18th all-time. Memphis has won 17 of those, with the lone Jackson State win coming in 1993.