MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Will Coleman scored 15 points and grabbed
nine rebounds and the Memphis defense clamped down on Tulsa's
leading scorers, helping the Tigers to a 75-53 victory over the
Golden Hurricane on Saturday.
Doneal Mack added 14 points for Memphis (23-8, 13-3 Conference
USA). The senior, playing in his final home game, left late in the
second half to a standing ovation, leaning down to kiss the tiger
at midcourt as he departed.
"It was basically me just saying thank you to the fans, the
city, the program," Mack said of the gesture. "Everybody who
encouraged me throughout this year. Me and (fellow senior Willie
Kemp) persevered through these four years. And we're the last two
Angel Garcia and Wesley Witherspoon finished with 11 each, while
Elliot Williams scored 10.
Jerome Jordan led Tulsa (21-10, 10-6) with 19 points, while
Bishop Wheatley scored 12 - all in the first half.
The Memphis defense held Tulsa to 40.4 percent shooting (21 of
52). The Golden Hurricane were 1 of 10 (10 percent) from outside
the arc. Ben Uzoh, Tulsa's leading scorer at 15.7, was limited to
six points, attempting only five shots in the game.
The Memphis defensive strategy was to keep the ball out of
Uzoh's hands, forcing other Tulsa players to make plays.
"That's their best player," said Kemp, who had the defensive
duty on Uzoh. "I just tried to contain him and not let him get
that many open looks."
Most of Jordan's points came in the second half after Memphis
already held a 20-point advantage.
Tulsa's third-leading scorer, Justin Hurtt (14.2 points), scored
only four points, missing seven of his eight shots.
"Our game plan didn't work," Tulsa coach Doug Wojcik said.
"They made shots. It was really the tempo we wanted. Our offense
was inept. Defensively, they really took Ben Uzoh out of the
Memphis was already leading by double digits in the second half
when the Tigers went on an 11-0 run to extend the lead past 20.
From there, Memphis coasted to its 12th straight win over the
Golden Hurricane, who has not defeated the Tigers since March 27,
Memphis led 30-19 at halftime behind a defense that kept Uzoh,
Jordan and Hurtt in check.
"That was the main focus," Mack said. "If we were going to
get beat, we were going to get beat by the other players. We didn't
want Uzoh to get off, or Hurtt to start making 3s. Even Jordan, we
didn't want him to get off. We were focusing on those three
That approach worked, except Wheatley was holding up his end of
the challenge. The bulk of the Tulsa offense was Wheatley, who had
12 points at the break.
Tulsa misfired on nine of its first 10 shots and the shooting
woes continued through much of the half. At one point late in the
first half, Wheatley had hit six of his seven shots, but the rest
of the team was 1-of-15, a dunk by Jordan.
"We really limited those three guys," Memphis coach Josh
Pastner said. "We were able to neutralize them."
Memphis continued to build the advantage in the opening stages
of the second half. The string of 11 straight gave the Tigers their
biggest lead at the time, 48-25 on Garcia's 3-pointer with 13:27
Memphis already had solidified the second seed in next week's
C-USA tournament at Tulsa. But the victory gave Pastner an
opportunity to plead the Tigers' case for an NCAA bid.
"I think, right now, we're one of the 65 best teams. I believe
that," Pastner said. "But, I also know that we are not a team
that can just show up. So we have to be absolutely, really good.
"We are not a team that can play for 30 minutes. If we play for
40 minutes, we've got a chance."