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Five observations on Memphis’ victory over Ohio State

Memphis was able to get its season back on track as it took down the Ohio State Buckeyes 81-76, Friday night at American Airlines Arena in Miami as part of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Invitational. The Tigers (3-2) were led by star big men Shaq Goodwin, who tied his career high with 23 points, and Dedric Lawson (16 points and 10 rebounds).

Here are five observations on the Tigers’ win:

1. Goodwin can be a monster for Memphis

Goodwin’s monster game and aggressive play led the Tigers to victory Friday night. It seemed every time Memphis needed a big basket he went out and got it. Goodwin has shown throughout his career he has all the ability in the world –averaging 12.2 points and 8.4 rebounds per game this season—but has lacked the consistency to put it together for a full season. Goodwin recorded his 1,000th career point as a Tiger Friday night on 7-10 shooting and 9-9 from the free throw line. Memphis will need Goodwin to build off of his strong performance against Ohio State, if they hope to make the post-season.

2. Improved shooting

Memphis has struggled so far this season when it comes to shooting, as the Tigers entered Friday’s game averaging 37.7 percent from the field, 21.4 percent from three and 68.1 from the free throw line. Poor shooting cost the Tigers in their 68-64 loss to UT-Arlington—a game in which the Tigers shot just 29.6 percent from the field, 19 percent from behind the arc and 63.6 percent from the charity stripe. This wasn’t the case against Ohio State. Memphis was able to take advantage of its chances at the line going 28-36 (77.8 percent). The Tigers were also able to knock down five of their 14 three-pointers, a mark good enough for 35.7 percent. Against Ohio State, Memphis not only took fewer shots, but took better shots than it had in previous games this season. The Tigers will need this trend to continue to ensure they don’t drop anymore games to lower-level opponents.

3. Ricky Tarrant has to be a factor

Although senior guard Ricky Tarrant has not shot the ball well this season, he has continued to make his presence felt in his first five games as a Tiger. In Memphis’ loss to UT-Arlington, Tarrant’s strong play and ability to get to the free throw line helped the Tigers battle back from a double-digit deficit and a shot to win the game. Tarrant continued that effort against OSU with 16 points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals. He finished 14-16 from the free throw line. If Tarrant is able to find his shooting touch, Memphis may be a player come conference play.

4. Dedric Lawson must value the basketball

Through five games this season, Lawson is averaging four turnovers per game—including 11 in his last two games. Lawson has excelled when it comes to scoring and rebounding, and has even looked great when it comes to assists, but he often tries to do too much in driving the lane and pushing the ball up the floor. He drives the lane very well, but often loses the ball before getting to the basket. He also has above average handles for a big man, but has trouble dribbling through traffic. He needs to have better control and make better decisions when to handle the ball—both of which should develop as he gains more experience at the college level.

5. Jake McDowell played and it wasn’t in garbage time

The Tigers got into foul trouble early against OSU, causing freshman big man Nick Marshall to get early minutes. When this didn’t work, coach Josh Pastner decided to play small and go with walk-on Jake McDowell. Other than a few defensive lapses, McDowell was able to hold his own. He fought for loose balls, made some decent plays and showed a lot of grittiness against a young but talented Ohio State team. This isn’t a game plan that Memphis will be able to roll with throughout the entire season, however. The Tigers’ big men Goodwin and Lawson will have to keep their fouls in check moving forward.

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