Tigers upend UT-Martin, 93-65
The team that was supposed to be there all along showed up Thursday night at FedEx Forum. From start to finish, the University of Memphis men's basketball team dominated every facet of the game as it trounced the University of Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks.
UT-Martin's Justin Childs hit a jumper just over a minute into the contest to give the Skyhawks a 5-4 lead. It would be the last time UT-Martin would hold the advantage as junior Chris Crawford hit a jumper to give the Tigers a 6-4 lead, one they would not relinquish for the remainder of the game. Freshman forward Shaq Goodwin made up for the absence of junior forward Tarik Black with the first double-double of his career in an all-around effort.
"It wasn't really on my mind," Goodwin said. "I just wanted to come out and play my game and get my teammates involved and win."
Memphis pushed the tempo early and often, increasing the lead to 14 on an 8-0 run capped off by a Crawford three-pointer to bring the tally to 31-17. After the teams traded baskets to make the score 36-25, junior guard Joe Jackson grabbed a defensive rebound and took it coast to coast to start an 11-5 run to end the half.
With two seconds remaining before heading into the locker room, Stan Simpson made the play of the game when he lobbed the ball down the court to junior guard-forward D.J. Stephens. Stephens caught the ball in the air and passed to an open Crawford, who drained a buzzer-beater to give the Tigers a 47-30 lead at the break.
At the half, Crawford led all scorers with 14 points, while Goodwin added 11 points and four rebounds.
"We were real intense and worked very hard and had to work with the guys we had out on the court," Thomas said. "Like I said, we were very unselfish tonight and everybody did a great job playing their role tonight and we did an outstanding job."
The game got out of hand with the start of the second half. After a UT-Martin bucket to begin the scoring, the Tigers continued to impose their will. By the 12:32 mark of the second half, Memphis had ballooned the advantage to 23 points on a 23-7 run. Sophomore guard-forward Adonis Thomas' second three-pointer of the season gave Memphis its largest lead of the game at 83-42 with 8:12 left in the game.
UT-Martin cut the lead back down to 26 with 3:49 to go, but the Tigers were too much to handle as they closed out the game to take home their fourth win of the season 93-65.
"I really hope they can play like they did tonight [for the rest of the season]. I believe they have a chance to be a really good team," Pastner said. "We had to get the crowd back tonight and that was on us. We had to earn that tonight."
For the game, the Tigers forced 19 turnovers, while committing 15 themselves, many of which came in the closing minutes once Pastner had emptied the bench. Goodwin paced Memphis with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Thomas chipped in with 15, while Crawford and Jackson scored 14 and 13 points, respectively. Mike Liabo led the Skyhawks with 21 points.
The Tigers return to the court Dec. 5, when they take on Ohio University. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m.
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