Memphis Cruises to Victory in Final Exhibition Game
Nov. 11, 2011
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Playing its final tune-up before the regular season tips off, the Memphis men's basketball team dominated cross-town foe Christian Brothers University with a 79-56 win Friday night at FedExForum. Memphis will open the regular season on Tuesday against Belmont in the opening round of the EA Sports Maui Invitational. The game will tip off at 11 a.m. in FedExForum as part of ESPN's 24-Hour Tipoff Marathon.
Sophomore Will Barton, last season's leading scorer, paced the Tigers with 27 points while Joe Jackson added 14 and Chris Crawford contributed 13 during a hot streak in the first half. Senior Wesley Witherspoon led all players on the boards with nine rebounds, including five on the offensive glass, to give the Tigers a 38-22 edge in that category. For the game, Memphis shot 48.1 percent from the field while holding the Buccaneers to just 39.2 percent shooting with 19 turnovers.
Memphis steals on the first two CBU possessions set the tone early as the Tigers scored the first six points of the game. After a 0-for-3 shooting start, the Buccaneers finally got on the board with a trey. But Crawford provided a big lift off the bench in the early going with 13 points on five straight buckets to build a 19-5 Memphis lead. Crawford was 5-for-5 from the field with three treys before the 12-minute mark, part of a 9-for-13 shooting start for the Tigers.
Crawford's hot hand soon extended to the rest of the team as Memphis put together an 18-0 run to go up 26-5 with 8:51 left in the first half. After missing eight straight shots, the Buccaneers found the bottom of the net with a trey from Pat Graham to stop the run. But the damage had been done. Back-to-back dunks from Barton on the next two Tiger possessions had the crowd on its feet and the Tiger lead up to 23 points at 31-8. Barton lit up the rim again at the 4:32 mark with a throwdown off a soft lob from Crawford, adding to the highlight reel.
A 7-0 CBU spurt gave the Buccaneers some life in the waning minutes of the first half, cutting the lead to 17 points at 37-20. Memphis freshman Adonis Thomas drained a three at the other end, but CBU scored the final five points of the half with a three-pointer and a pair of free throws to make it 40-25 Memphis at the break. The Tigers shot 51.9 percent from the floor in the first half with 13 points from Crawford and 10 from Barton while the Buccaneers shot 39.1 percent.
Both teams struggled from the field to start the second half as only two buckets were scored before the media timeout at the 15:58 mark. However, Memphis made its living from the charity stripe with five straight points to take a 47-28 lead. The Tigers reached the bonus with 11:12 left to play and were 9-for-10 from the line to that point in the second half.
With his team up 57-34, Jackson entered his name in the dunk contest as he took a steal the length of the court and hammered it home. With frustration mounting, CBU fouled Antonio Barton hard, earning a technical foul and more free throws for the Tigers, which allowed them to extend their lead to 62-34 with 8:27 left in the game. Down 72-36 with just under five minutes to play, the Buccaneers drained treys on four straight possessions, including an and-one, in a 13-2 run. But it was too little too late as Memphis coasted the rest of the way to victory with newcomer Hippolyte Tsafack providing the exclamation point with a dunk in the final minute.