- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 4, 2014

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Rutgers coach Eddie Jordan could do little more than tell his team they were enduring an unpleasant lesson from No. 24 Memphis.

The Scarlet Knights could do little to stop the Tigers in the first half and Memphis went on to a 101-69 victory Tuesday night.

“It was what it was,” Jordan said. “I told our guys at halftime: ‘It’s a lesson. We’re being taught a lesson here. You’ve got to get ready to play.’”

Kadeem Jack was the only Scarlet Knight in double figures with 12 points as Rutgers (9-14, 3-7 American Athletic Conference) lost its fifth in the last six. There was scant evidence Rutgers was ready at any point before showing a few flashes after halftime when it shot 53 percent to finish the game at 41 percent.

Jordan said Memphis was more physical, but also displayed its “expertise at the 3 and in the paint.”

“They’re bigger than we are,” he said. “They’re tougher, and they’re better. .They almost shocked us with their physicality.”

Memphis made a concentrated effort to pound the ball inside early, and freshman forward Austin Nichols benefited from the strategy.

Nichols scored 18 points, and Joe Jackson added 16 points and eight assists for the Tigers.

The Tigers (17-5, 7-3) hit a season-high 12 3-pointers and shot 59 percent, also a best this season. Memphis worked the ball to Nichols from the start, and he had 13 points before the midway point of the first half.

“Our philosophy was to go inside out and that’s what we did,” said Memphis guard Chris Crawford, who had 12 points and 11 rebounds. “Austin was great for us. We had an inside presence early, and it opened up for the guards on the outside.”

Memphis, which won its seventh game in the last nine, never trailed and led by as many as 41 points in the second half as the Tigers rebounded from an 87-72 loss at SMU on Saturday.

Michael Dixon scored 15 points, Shaq Goodwin added 13 and Geron Johnson had 12 for Memphis.

“Establishing the post presence early on in the game set everything else up,” Memphis coach Josh Pastner said. “I love that Austin Nichols went 8 of 9 from the floor. He and Shaq Goodwin had some great moves down there below the rim.”

Pastner later added: “We are just a better team when we play through the post.”

For Nichols, the performance was particularly satisfying. He had scored a total of 15 points in the last four games and was 7 of 18 from the field over that span. Pastner said part of going inside early was to get Nichols involved.

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