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Quick reaction: Memphis defeats LeMoyne-Owen 107-88

<p>Coach Josh Pastner and the Tigers will hope to rebound from tonight's loss when they face off against Ohio State on Friday.&nbsp;</p>
Coach Josh Pastner and the Tigers will hope to rebound from tonight's loss when they face off against Ohio State on Friday. 

There would be no repeat of the Memphis men’s basketball team losing an exhibition game to a Division II team this season. The Tigers pulled away in the second half and defeated LeMoyne-Owen 107-88 at FedExForum Friday night.

Here are a few takeaways from Memphis’ victory.

-- New senior point guard Ricky Tarrant, who led Memphis with 22 points and three assists, seemed to fit right in with the Tigers despite a slow start – for him and the team. Despite shooting just 2-8 in the first half, Tarrant got to the line – and converted his foul shots – going 6-6. Eventually, like the rest of offense, Tarrant got going and finished 5-12 for the game, and shot a solid 4-9 from three-point range. If the Tigers can get respectable three-point shooting from Tarrant, the four-around-one, which requires solid shooting to be effective, may very well be a success.

-- Shaq Goodwin looked extremely impressive against LeMoyne-Owen as he recorded a double-double (17 points, 14 rebounds) and showed the aggression on offensive – and on the glass – and leadership the Tigers will need from him in 2015-16 with Austin Nichols’ departure to the University of Virginia in July.

-- The Lawson brothers both showed flashes of promise Friday night, particularly K.J. Lawson. K.J. finished with 13 points (on 5-12 shooting) and seven rebounds, while Dedric had 10 points (3-10 from the field) and nine rebounds. It was their dominance on the glass and energy – especially on the offensive boards – that helped Memphis outrebound the Magicians 58-25 in its win.

-- Whenever you score 107 points – even against a Division II opponent – the offense has to execute. Even though Memphis recorded only 15 assists on 36 made field goals, the team moved the ball pretty well and looked far better than the stagnant offense that plagued the Tigers for the majority of 2015. The Tigers also shot 35 percent from three-point range, while it’s not great, that is respectable and with designated three-point shooter Avery Woodson going 1-5 from long range it’s a sign the Tigers fortunes from three-point range could change this season.

-- However despite the many positives, the Tigers still have a lot to improve on going forward. LeMoyne-Owen shot 58 percent in the first half, and made 6-10 shots from three-point range. While the Tigers held them to 40 percent from the field in the second half, Memphis will have to improve on defense significantly – especially on closing out on three-point shooters – if it’s luck is to change in 2016.

-- Also, the Tigers dominated not only the boards, but also consequently the offensive glass 25-6 in its win. Though Memphis coach Josh Pastner said his team will have to improve and not miss so many easy shots – that’s where offensive rebounds came from – and they’ll have to finish through contact better. He’s right on both counts, the stiffer the competition the less likely Memphis is to outrebound its opponents. Especially, given the Tigers have only three viable big men on its roster (Goodwin, Dedric Lawson and Nick Marshall). So in future games, the Tigers will have to make layups, tonight’s game only further solidified that.

--Overall, tonight was a success, albeit a small one. The Tigers won’t have to deal with the talk of losing to a Division II opponent for the second consecutive year and that can only be a good thing heading into its season opener against Southern Miss next Saturday. All of Memphis’ players who need to play well for the team to be successful in 2015-16 played well or showed promising flashes. Plus Pastner said tonight’s starting five of Dedric, Goodwin, Woodson, Tarrant and Markel Crawford will probably start against Southern Miss, which is one less thing Pastner will have to worry about next week.

The Tigers’ season opener against Southern Miss is 7 p.m. Nov. 14 at FedExForum. The game will also be available on ESPN3.

Coach Josh Pastner and the Tigers will hope to rebound from tonight's loss when they face off against Ohio State on Friday. 

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