- Associated Press - Thursday, January 5, 2017

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - The second-half Memphis lead swelled to enough that the Tigers were able to weather not one, but two UConn runs of consecutive points down the stretch.

Even with those rallies, Memphis was able to easily hold on for a 70-61 win over the Huskies on Thursday night, extending UConn’s losing skid to four straight.

“We’re 5-9 (overall, 0-3 American Athletic Conference) and our feelings aren’t good right now,” UConn coach Kevin Ollie said.

Markel Crawford had 19 points and eight rebounds for Memphis, while Dedric Lawson added his 12th double-double with 15 points and 11 boards. Lawson also had six assists and three steals.

Jimario Rivers finished with 16 for the Tigers (11-4, 1-1), who shot 47.5 percent (29 of 61).

The Tigers built a double-digit lead early in the second half before extending the advantage to 20 with 7:10 left. UConn never really threatened the rest of the way, despite separate spurts of seven straight and eight consecutive points.

Rodney Purvis and Vance Jackson led the Huskies with 14 points apiece. Amida Brimah had nine points and 15 rebounds, including five offensive boards.

The Memphis lead reached double digits late in the first half before the Tigers carried a 32-24 lead into the break. After Crawford scored the first basket of the second UConn never got closer than nine.

“I thought it was outstanding defense,” Memphis coach Tubby Smith said. “We did some good things. We shared the basketball. We took care of the basketball the right way.”

Memphis committed a season-low four turnovers.

The Huskies shot 37.9 percent (25 of 66) from the field, including 4 of 20 from outside the arc, and committed 15 turnovers.

“It’s our Achilles heel - shooting from the outside and 15 turnovers,” Ollie said.

Crawford connected on 5 of 7 shots in the first half, including his only 3-point attempt, as Memphis shot 48 percent from the field. Crawford made 9 of 12 overall and Rivers hit 7 of 9.

Markel Crawford did whatever he wanted to do,” Ollie said. “He felt no pressure from our guards. We have to do a better job. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves.”

BIG PICTURE

UConn: The Huskies, who had won three straight over the Tigers, continued their tailspin with their fifth loss in the last six. Their only win in that stretch was over North Florida on Dec. 18.

Memphis: The Tigers won their second straight and fourth in the last five. The lone loss in the stretch was a 58-54 defeat at the hands of SMU.

POOR OUTSIDE SHOOTING

Ollie noted that UConn’s three starting guards connecting on only 8 of 38 shots from the field. That included missing 14 of 16 shots outside the arc. “We’ve got to get some scoring from the outside to open up the inside, so (opponents are) not just double-teaming,” Ollie said. “We can’t shoot the way we’ve been shooting and try to stay in games. It puts too much pressure on our defense.”

BROTHERHOOD

Not much was expected from Memphis this season, but several players said the team has become a close-knit group, helping overcome their anticipated shortcomings. “When you have guys that are not getting along or being selfish, that’s not going to help you win. So, I think it is important for this team to be together as a group,” Crawford said. Rivers added: “Once we started gelling together, that’s when everything started working.”

UP NEXT

UConn: Returns home Sunday after a three-game road trip to face Central Florida.

Memphis: Travels to New Orleans on Sunday to face Tulane.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide