Memphis Wins 85-80 for Third-Straight over Rival Tennessee
Jan. 4, 2013
The Tigers got out to a quick start, opening up an 8-2 lead in the first four minutes of the game, holding the Vols to just two free throws. Tennessee would not get its first field goal until the 15:36 mark with a three from Jordan McRae to make it 8-5 Memphis.
The Tigers stretched their lead with a three from Joe Jackson to go up 13-5 six minutes into the game. The Vols would get within four before a trey from D.J. Stephens in the corner gave the Tigers a 16-9 advantage midway through the half.
Trailing 20-13, Tennessee made a run to cut the Tigers lead to one with 6:32 to go in the half, getting four points from the charity stripe during their 6-0 run. Memphis responded with a spurt of its own to build a 30-23 lead with less than four minutes remaining in the half. Geron Johnson and Stephens provided some huge dunks for the Tigers while Chris Crawford knocked down a couple of tough shots in the paint during the Memphis run.
The Tigers shot 64 percent (16-25) from the floor in the first 20 minutes while holding the Vols to just 28 percent (8-29). The Tigers also played tough down low with five first-half blocks, including three from Stephens. Thomas led Memphis at the break with 11 points while Jackson and Stephens each shot 3-of-3 to record nine points apiece.
The Tigers continued to shine on offense in the second half, building a 20-point lead in the first three minutes of the half by forcing four Tennessee turnovers.
McRae kept the Vols in the game with three buckets from long range to pull Tennessee back within 15 at 62-47 with 11:26 to play. The Vols kept the momentum on their side with another three from McRae to pull within 64-54 before a layup by Barton ended a 5-0 Tennessee run with nine minutes to play. Tennessee continued to chip away by cutting the Memphis lead to six before Johnson hit a crucial three to put the Tigers back up nine with just over seven minutes remaining.
Jarnell Stokes hit back-to-back buckets to give the Vols just a five-point deficit at the five-minute mark. Johnson answered again for the Tigers with a bucket from behind the arc while Jackson knocked down two free throws to give Memphis a double-digit lead at 74-64.
With Memphis holding a 77-66, the Vols answered with a 9-2 run to get within four with 46 seconds left. However, Crawford and Jackson went 6-of-6 from the line in the final seconds to give Memphis an 85-80 victory and hand the Vols their first home loss of the season.
Jackson led the Tigers with 20 points, seven assists, four rebounds and four steals. Thomas added 18 points and three blocks while Johnson recorded 16 points for the Tigers with 14 coming in the second half. For the second time in the last three games, Stephens recorded five blocks, a career-high, to help Memphis tally 11 on the night. McRae led Tennessee with 26 points while Josh Richardson posted 20 points.
Memphis finished the game shooting 56 percent from the floor while Tennessee boosted its percentage from the first half to 44 percent for the game. The Tigers were outrebounded 36-26 but held an advantage in assists (16-11), steals (11-5) and blocks (11-6).
Memphis returns to FedExForum on Wednesday, Jan. 9 at 7 p.m. to face East Carolina in its first Conference USA contest of the season.