Tigers gash Governors 83-65
Published: Saturday, December 8, 2012
Updated: Saturday, December 8, 2012 16:12
At the beginning of the season, many people knew how talented junior guard Geron Johnson was. It was just a matter if he could play in a structured system and stay out of trouble. So far, the junior has done just that and Saturday, for the second-straight game, Johnson dazzled the crowd at FedExForum with his crafty scoring and intense defensive presence as the University of Memphis men’s basketball team upended the Austin Peay Governors 83-65.
Johnson did it all against the Governors, finishing with 14 points, seven rebounds, six assists and four steals in a well-rounded effort for the Tigers that saw 10 Memphis players record points and five score in double-digits. By the end of the contest, the Tigers had dished out 25 assists, but 23 turnovers prevented Memphis from leading by more than 21. However, Memphis made 25 assists on 37 made baskets and outrebounded the Governors 41-22 to take home the win.
“I feel like we were trying to play so fast that [the turnovers] just happened,” freshman forward Shaq Goodwin said. “They weren’t forced turnovers they were unforced turnovers, but we’ll work on that starting Monday.”
The first half turned at the 13:23 mark. With the score tied at 10 a piece, Memphis senior guard D.J. Stephens slammed home two points off of one of Johnson’s six assists for the game to start a 13-0 run to put the Tigers up 23-10 with just over 10 minutes before the break. Two minutes later, a three-point jumper by junior guard Antonio Barton gave Memphis their largest lead to that point at 30-13. The Governors closed the gap behind the play of guard Travis Betran, who nailed a three-pointer to pull the tally to 37-25. Betran’s three sent the teams into the locker room with the Tigers leading 43-30.
For the first half, Memphis shot a blistering 58.1 percent from the field and 50 percent from beyond the arc. Sophomore guard-forward Adonis Thomas did not return to the game after an elbow connected to his eye. Head coach Josh Pastner said he should be fine, but they did not want to take any risks by putting him back in the game.
“Everybody is just having more fun out there,” junior guard Chris Crawford said. “We are a very unselfish team and that is helping us in the long run.”
To open the second half, senior forward Stan Simpson and junior guard Joe Jackson scored two quick, back-to-back buckets to increase the Tigers lead to 47-30. The Governors continued to hand around as Memphis committed numerous unforced turnovers, slicing the lead to 49-36 with 17:44 remaining in the game.
Junior forward Tarik Black had only four points in the first half. He turned it up a notch in the second, starting with nine minutes to go in the contest. With Memphis leading 64-48, Black dunked the ball to make the score 66-48. The junior took over for the rest of the half, scoring 13 of the Tigers final 19 points en route to an 18-point victory.
“All wins are good, so we’ll take it,” Pastner said. “Defensively we did some good things, forcing 28 turnovers; we had a plus 19 edge in rebounding and I love the fact we had 25 assists on 37 made field goals. There were a lot of positives to take out of this [game].”
Black paced the Tigers with 18 points and six rebounds. Johnson was second on the team with 14 points, while Barton, Jackson and Stephens scored 10, 12 and 10 points, respectively. Betran led the Governors with 27 points.
The Tigers now have a week to prepare as rival Louisville comes to the Bluff City on Dec. 15. Game time is slated for 1:30 p.m.