No. 19 Memphis Outlasts Miami 72-68
By: Preston McClellan
MEMPHIS - In a game that saw 58 fouls, 13 ties, and 15 lead changes, the Memphis Tigers scrapped their way to a 72-68 victory over the Miami Hurricanes to kick off ESPN's 24 Hours of Hoops in front of 17,783 raucous fans Monday night at FedExForum.
Trailing 63-59 after a three-point bucket by Malcolm Grant at the four minute mark in the second half, Wesley Witherspoon intercepted a pass near mid-court and fed a streaking Chris Crawford to narrow the margin to 63-61. After a missed shot by Miami, Witherspoon drew a fouled and calmly stepped to the line and knocked down two from the charity stripe to even the mark at 63 with 2:26 to play.
Miami countered, however, as Durand Scott drew another foul--there were 58 fouls between the teams--and made two free throws to put the Canes back in front 65-63. Crawford again answered the bell, this time with a corner trifecta that sent FedExForum into a frenzy and put Memphis ahead 66-65.
Scott went back to the line on the next possession, this time making one of two to again tie the ballgame at 66. Charles Carmouche and Joe Jackson would each make a pair of free throws to keep the Canes' late push at bay before Antonio Barton's free throw with 1.5 seconds left effectively put the game out of reach 72-68.
"I have to give an amazing shootout to the unreal, best fan base I've ever seen," Memphis head coach Josh Pastner said. "What was the announced crowd tonight? 17,783? That is just ridiculous with a capital 'R.'"
Jackson finished with 17 points on 5-of-11 shooting to lead the Tigers, who won despite shooting just 33.9 percent and getting outrebounded 51-31 on the glass. His 17 points were the highest total for a Tiger freshman since Tyreke Evans scored 33 against Missouri in the 2008 West Regional Semifinal loss.
Carmouche added 13, including 8-of-10 from the charity stripe, to go along with five steals in a team-high 31 minutes. Witherspoon (12) and Antonio Barton (10) were the only other Tiger defenders that finished in double figures.
"We held on, and we came back to get the 'W'," Pastner said. "We rebounded the ball in the last minute and made stops. That got us the 'W.'"
The Miami backcourt of Scott and Malcolm Grant, which came in averaging a combined 43 points, didn't disappoint Monday night, as the duo combined for nearly half of the Canes' points. Scott finished with 20 on 5-of-11 shooting and 9-of-11 on free throws to lead the Miami attack, but also committed five turnovers.
Scott finished with 18 points and seven rebounds in a game-high 35 minutes, but shot just 5-of-16 from the field. Big man Regge Johnson was limited in the first half due to foul trouble, found a rhythm after the break and finished with a double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds.
The Tigers' defense came through on a night on which neither team seemed to be able to settle into a rhythm. Memphis held Miami to 20-of-61 shooting from the field, including a meager 3-of-19 from beyond the arc. The Canes finished with 18 turnovers, which the Tigers turned into 20 points. Memphis also outscored Miami 12-4 on fast break points.
Memphis also held Arian Foster, who led the ACC in three-point shooting last season with a mark of 42.1 percent, scoreless in 22 minutes of action. Foster finished 0-of-4 from deep, and the Canes shot just 15.8 percent as a team from three.
"They were one of the leading three point teams in the ACC last year," Pastner said. "We held Adrian Thomas to zero points."
The Tigers have a quick turnaround as they take on Northwestern State at 7 p.m. at FedExForum.