Strong Second Half Lifts No. 20 Memphis to 67-58 Win Over No. 18 SMU
March 8, 2014
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The No. 20 University of Memphis men's basketball team (23-8, 12-6 American) put together a 20-5 run midway through the second half to propel them to a 67-58 victory over No. 18 SMU (23-8, 12-6 American) on Senior Day at FedExForum.
Trailing 39-38, a three-pointer by Joe Jackson put the Tigers up for good as Memphis began a huge run that included three-straight treys by Chris Crawford to help build a 58-44 lead with less than nine minutes to play in the game. SMU would cut its deficit to six with less than two minutes to go, but a three-point play by Jackson on the other end sealed the victory for Memphis.
Jackson led the Tigers with 18 points while Austin Nichols reached double digits for the sixth-straight game with 14 points on 7-of-9 shooting along with a team-high nine boards and three blocks. Crawford and Michael Dixon Jr. each added nine points while Nick King contributed seven points and seven rebounds.
Nic Moore paced SMU with 16 points and seven assists while Nick Russell and Markus Kennedy each tallied 13 points in the loss.
Memphis took an early 6-2 advantage after a dunk by Geron Johnson, but a layup by Russell gave SMU its first lead at 8-6 with 14:48 to play in the first half. Jackson drew an and-one opportunity before Nick King pulled down the missed free throw for a putback to give put the Tigers a 16-12 lead midway through the period.
SMU then began a 12-1 run over the next 3:04 thanks to three-straight treys by the Mustangs to grab a 24-17 advantage with 7:05 remaining. The Tigers began to trim the deficit with a jumper from Dixon Jr. and a fastbreak layup by Dominic Woodson to make it a 24-21 game. A three by Moore gave the Mustangs their first basket in nearly four minutes for a 27-22 score with 3:14 to play.
A basket by King pulled Memphis within two, but SMU held a 30-26 lead at the break.
The Tigers opened the second half on a 7-0 run with two baskets from Nichols and a wide-open three by Jackson to take a 33-30 lead two minutes out of the half. A jumper by Nichols put Memphis up four, but SMU went back on top with a 7-2 spurt after five points from Russell for a 39-38 lead with 14:28 to play.
The Mustangs' advantage didn't last long as three by Jackson on the next possession began a 9-0 run for the Tigers. Back-to-back jumpers by Dixon Jr. followed by a layup from Jackson capped off the Memphis run to force an SMU timeout.
A layup by Kennedy ended the Mustangs' drought, but Crawford knocked down three-straight buckets from behind the arc to give Memphis a 56-44 advantage. A bucket from Johnson completed the 20-5 Memphis run to make it 58-44.
After a free throw by Jackson for a 61-48 game, a jumper by Moore brought SMU within seven with 4:04 left on the clock. However, Dixon Jr. ended the Mustangs surge with the Tigers' sixth three of the half to extend Memphis' lead back to double figures at 64-54.
A layup by Kennedy pulled the Mustangs within six but a three-point play by Jackson in the paint was enough for Memphis down the stretch to pull out a 67-58 win.
Memphis next competes in the inaugural American Athletic Championships that will be held at FedExForum, Mar. 12-15. The Tigers will wait to find out their quarterfinal round opponent after regular season play wraps up Saturday night. Memphis will face either SMU or UConn in its tournament-opening game.