Memphis Escapes UAB, 62-58

Feb. 16, 2011

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Joe Jackson scored 12 points in the victory.

By: Preston McClellan

MEMPHIS – Will Barton scored 17 points and Joe Jackson added 12 as the Memphis Tigers (20-6; 8-3 C-USA) outlasted a tough UAB Blazers squad, 62-58 Wednesday night at FedExForum.

“It doesn’t matter how you win,” University of Memphis head coach Josh Pastner said. “There is no such thing as a pretty win, good looking win or fun win.” Barton and Jackson each made a pair of clutch free throws coming down the stretch to help hand the Blazers’ their 11th straight loss against the Tigers. Memphis also won its 20th game, marking the 11th consecutive season the program has achieved that feat.

After taking a 28-24 halftime lead, Memphis came out of the half lackadaisical on defense and allowed UAB to make three of its first four looks from long range to start the second half. Those three triples were part of a 16-2 Blazer run that left Memphis reeling as the Tigers trailed 40-33 with 14:49 to go.

The Tigers responded with a 9-0 run of their own, however, and Charles Carmouche put Memphis ahead for good when he made 1-of-2 free throws at the 8:02 mark.

Still, it wasn’t easy down the stretch for Memphis, as UAB’s senior point guard Aaron Johnson was able to draw fouls on three-straight Blazer possessions coming down the stretch. Johnson would convert 4-of-6 from the free throw line, and after two free ones from Ovie Soko with 24 seconds, the Tigers’ lead was down to 59-58.

Jackson made two free throws for Memphis, however, and Antonio Barton made 1-of-2 after a UAB miss to seal the victory for the Tigers.

Carmouche was the only other Tiger to join Barton and Jackson in double figures, totaling 10 points to go along with six rebounds in 29 minutes. Black, who struggled finishing close to the rim in the first half, found a rhythm and finished with seven points and seven rebounds. Wesley Witherspoon, playing for the first time since January 12 at SMU, finished with six points on 3-of-3 shooting in 15 minutes of action.

Soko, playing an increased role after Blazer forward Cameron Moore broke his hand, finished with a game-high 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting. Johnson finished with a double-double of 12 points and 10- assists despite making just 2-of-9 from the field. Anthony Criswell was the only other UAB player to manage double digits, finishing with 12 points in 35 minutes.

Memphis’ pesky defense again frustrated Jamarr Sanders, UAB’s leading scorer at 16.0 ppg, who was held to just six points on 2-of-13 shooting. Sanders was held to 0-of-10 from long range in the team’s first matchup earlier this season.

“We held them to 35.7 percent from the field so we held them to eight or nine percent below their average of 44 percent,” Pastner said. “They shoot 34 percent from the three point line and we held them to 23.8 percent.” In two meetings with the Blazers this season, Memphis has held UAB to 15.9 percent (15-of-44) from three-point territory. The Blazers connected on just 5-of-21 from beyond the arc Saturday after going 2-for-23 (8.7 percent) in the first matchup on Jan. 22.

Will Barton has now scored in double figures in 10 consecutive games for the Tigers and is averaging 15.5 ppg during the hot streak.

With the win, Pastner reached 20 victories for the second consecutive season, joining three other coaches (Wayne Yates, Larry Finch, John Calipari) to achieve 20 wins in their first two seasons on the job.

After falling to 5-3 in league play after back-to-back losses to Marshall and Tulsa, Memphis has battled back to take the reigns of C-USA after three-straight victories over UCF, Southern Miss, and UAB. The Tigers moved back into first position following UTEP’s 64-51 loss to Southern Miss Wednesday night in Hattiesburg.

The Tigers now take to the road again, as they travel to Houston, Texas for a matchup against Rice on Saturday, Feb. 19. Game time is slated for 7 p.m. (CT) with the contest airing on CSS.

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About pmccllln

21 years young. Senior PR student at the University of Memphis. Student intern for Memphis Athletic Media Relations. www.prestonmcclellan.weebly.com. Follow me @p_mcclellan.

Posted on February 17, 2011, in Josh Pastner, Memphis Athletics, memphis basketball, Memphis Tigers, NCAA, NCAA Basketball, UAB Blazers and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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