Memphis Survives Tennessee State, 91-86
Jan. 2, 2011
By: Preston McClellan
MEMPHIS - Antonio Barton scored a career-high 24 points, including 20 in the second half, and No. 21/22 Memphis survived a three-point shooting onslaught to defeat Tennessee State 91-86 Sunday afternoon at FedExForum.
"We found a way to win," Memphis head coach Josh Pastner said. "You have to give Tennessee State a lot of credit...they hit a couple of threes and got their confidence going and next thing you know it's a ball game."
After soundly defeating Lipscomb 88-70 Thursday, Memphis again found itself in back-and-forth affair, as Tennessee State seemed to have a long range answer for every Tiger run.
Both teams shot above 50 percent in the first half, as TSU connected on 10-of-11 three-point attempts in the first 20 minutes of play. Memphis countered with solid offensive sets in the halfcourt and used its advantage inside to counter the shooting barrage.
Led by Tarik Black's 15 first-half points off the bench, Memphis came back to tie the game at 43 at halftime after trailing 35-28 with less than eight minutes to play. Will Barton also added 10 in the first half.
TSU didn't slow down after halftime, as the Tigers came out firing in the second half and put Memphis on its heels after a layup from Kenny Moore put TSU ahead 60-52 with 13:06 to play.
On the next Memphis possession, the Tigers swung the ball around the perimeter before Joe Jackson found Antonio Barton open at the top of the key. Barton took the pass and drilled that open look and then did the same thing on the next two Memphis trips.
Barton's back-to-back-to-back trifectas brought Memphis to within 62-61. Both Tigers would go back and forth for the remainder of the game--there were nine lead changes in the contest--before A. Barton's fifth triple with 2:34 remaining gave Memphis the lead for good at 82-79.
A three-pointer by Kenny Moore with 22 seconds left brought TSU back to within 87-86, but Memphis scored four straight points to finish the game, capped by an emphatic jam from W. Barton to seal the victory.
Moore led the three-point onslaught for TSU, as the forward--who had never attempted more than four three's in game before Sunday-- made 5-of-6 from deep en route to scoring 22 points. Will Peters (17), Robert Covington (16), Patrick Miller (12), and Jacquan Nobles (11) all finished in double figures for TSU, which was seeking its first ever victory over a ranked foe.
Tennessee State, which entered Sunday's contest shooting under 36 percent from the season from long range, connected on 12-of-24 (50 percent) from beyond the arc. The cross-state Tigers started out hot from deep, making their first five on the way to an early 17-10 advantage. TSU's 12 threes were the most by a Tiger opponent since Cincinnati had 14 on Dec. 3, 2005.
Black, finally back to full-strength after battling flu-like symptoms over the past week, finished with a career-high 22 points and five rebounds in 25 minutes of action. Stephens finished with eight points, four rebounds, and two blocks in a series of above-the-rim plays that ignited the crowd.
The Tigers distributed the ball well against TSU, making 25 assists on 33 made buckets. Joe Jackson tied his career-high set against Lipscomb with eight assists. Chris Crawford set a new career-high with nine dimes to go along with six rebounds and seven points.
For the fourth straight game, Memphis outrebounded its opponent, carrying a 33-28 edge on the glass against TSU.
With the victory, head coach Josh Pastner picked up his 35th victory in short tenure at Memphis, tying him with Larry Finch as second-quickest UM coach to reach that plateau.
Memphis takes on an in-state opponent for the third straight game as it travels to Knoxville, Tenn. for a midweek match-up against cross-state rival Tennessee. Game time is scheduled for 8 p.m. (CDT) and will be televised on ESPN2.