Memphis Hangs On Against UTEP, 56-54
March 5, 2013
EL PASO, Texas - The University of Memphis men's basketball team (26-4, 15-0 C-USA) survived several late scares from UTEP (16-13, 9-6 C-USA) in a tight game the whole way to prevail in a 56-54 victory Tuesday night.
The Miners took a 5-1 lead in the first three minutes before a three from D.J. Stephens followed by a dunk put Memphis up 6-5 at the 16:13 mark. Joe Jackson kept the Tigers' run alive with a trey of his own to extend the U of M advantage to four.
After UTEP regained a 10-9 lead, buckets from Adonis Thomas and Geron Johnson gave Memphis a three-point cushion. A free throw from Jackson pushed the lead to four but a three from Konner Tucker kept UTEP in the game at 14-13 midway through the half. The Tigers would only get their lead back up to three the rest of the half as the teams traded buckets in the final ten minutes to go into the break tied at 22.
Thomas led Memphis in the opening 20 minutes with six points and five rebounds while Stephens added five points and three boards.
Trailing 32-31 four minutes into the second half, Memphis went on an 8-0 run with four different Tigers getting in on the scoring to build a 39-32 advantage. UTEP responded with a 10-1 spurt to take a 42-40 lead before Tarik Black ended the Miners' run with a dunk to knot it up at 42-all with 8:43 remaining.
With the Miners hanging on to a 49-48 lead, Black converted a three-point play to push Memphis ahead at 51-49 with four minutes to go. A three from Thomas and a basket down low from Black helped the Tigers extend their lead to 56-51 with two minutes to play.
UTEP cut its deficit to three with two points from the charity stripe to make it 56-53. With the final seconds ticking away, C.J. Cooper threw up a desperation three, forcing a foul and giving the Miners a chance to tie the game up with six seconds to go. Cooper converted just 1-of-3 from the line, sending Black to the other end for a one-and-one after the miss. After a miss from Black, the ball went off the hands of John Bohannon to give Memphis the ball back with two ticks remaining.
Jacques Streeter intercepted the inbounds pass near midcourt and heaved a three as time expired, but the shot was off to give Memphis a 56-54 win.
Crawford led the Tigers with 15 points on 6-of-9 from the floor while Thomas was close to a double-double with 11 points and nine boards. Johnson finished with a career-high 10 rebounds while dishing out seven assists, and Black finished with nine points off the bench on 4-of-4 shooting.
Memphis closes out the regular season Saturday with an 11 a.m. CT contest against rival UAB at FedExForum.