- Associated Press - Thursday, February 20, 2014

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) - Kadeem Jack did all he could. Unfortunately for Rutgers, it wasn’t enough.

Despite 18 second-half points from Jack, Rutgers was never able to take the lead and lost 64-59 to No. 22 Memphis on Thursday night.

“I just wanted to win,” Jack said of the difference between his first and second half. “So kind of put it into overdrive and turn it up and make it more competitive.”

Jack finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds.

Michael Dixon Jr. scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half and Memphis led from start to finish.

The Tigers (20-6, 9-4 American Athletic), coming off an overtime loss at No. 21 Connecticut on Saturday, got 11 points from Joe Jackson and 10 each from Shaq Goodwin and Austin Nichols.

Myles Mack and Malick Kone had 10 points apiece for the Scarlet Knights (10-17, 4-10), who have lost 10 of 13.

Memphis beat the Scarlet Knights 101-69 in their first meeting on Feb. 4. Thursday’s game closed out a tough three-game stretch for Rutgers, playing No. 23 SMU and No. 13 Louisville before hosting Memphis.

“That was one heck of a stretch for us - Memphis, Louisville and SMU - and I thought we finished that with a great effort tonight,” first-year coach Eddie Jordan said. “Obviously they’re a Top 25 team and we just needed to get our offense going a little bit more. Make a shot, get a little bit of a run. We just couldn’t get at least just a mini-run. A 6-0, 8-0 run. I’m not talking about a 15- or 20-0 run, but something substantial to put them on their heels a little bit. We just couldn’t’ get to that point.”

Memphis scored the game’s first seven points and led by 11 three times. The last was 32-21 early in the second half.

The closest Rutgers got was 62-59 on a 3-pointer by Mack with 4 seconds left, and Geron Johnson followed with two free throws to seal it.

“Like I tell a lot of people the American Conference is not a pushover conference at all top to bottom. There’s a lot of good teams in this conference you got to be ready each and every night,” Memphis coach Josh Pastner said. “Rutgers is a good team, they’ve got guards, they space the floor, they’re young and they’ve got some good big men. It was a challenge for us, we’re on the road, that’s how it is on the road, you can’t really dictate how it’s going to be, you just have to keep playing.”

The victory extends Memphis’ school record of 20-win seasons to 14 straight and the Tigers improved to 36-4 after a loss under Pastner.

Memphis hit its first four shots, including two 3-pointers, to take a 12-2 lead. The Tigers went ahead 24-13 before Rutgers scored eight straight points to close within three.

The Tigers answered with Goodwin’s driving layup and two free throws by Dixon for a 28-21 halftime lead.

Rutgers shot just 31.0 percent (9 for 29) in the half and was 2 of 11 from 3-point range.

In the second half, Memphis took its final 11-point lead and Rutgers could never make a big run. The lead fluctuated between five and 10 points for most of the half until a driving layup by Jack made it 53-49 with 3:45 remaining.

Dixon then scored six straight Memphis points, including a 3-pointer from the top of the circle to make it 59-51 with 1:16 left. Rutgers‘ last chance came after Mack’s 3-pointer but Johnson made the two free throws.

“The first thing I said was, ‘Do we belong?’ That was the first question I asked in pregame,” Jordan said. “Yes we belong if you give this, if you do this and you do this. And we did. We just didn’t get that little mini-run. That little dagger to just get us over the hump.”

Jackson added five rebounds and four assists for Memphis, which shot 47.8 percent (22 for 46) but committed 16 turnovers. Rutgers, which got seven assists, three steals and five rebounds from Mack, shot just 37.5 percent (26 for 64).



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