- Associated Press - Thursday, February 19, 2015

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Kedran Johnson scored a season-high 21 points, Austin Nichols had 16 and Markel Crawford added 14 and Memphis beat defending national champion UConn, 75-72, Thursday.

Nichols, who had missed the previous two games with a sprained ankle, scored 13 of his points in the opening half. Johnson added six assists and had only one turnover. Memphis (16-10, 8-5 American) was outrebounded 41-27 and had to survive a late Huskies’ rally from 15 points down early in the second half.

UConn trimmed the Tigers’ lead to 72-70 with 19.4 seconds left after Amida Brimah made a pair from the line. But Johnson dropped in two free throws two seconds later and Crawford split a pair of free throws with 8.4 seconds to go.

Daniel Hamilton missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Hamilton led UConn (14-11, 7-6) with 25 points and 13 rebounds, while Brimah scored 19.

The Tigers shot a torrid 58 percent in the first half to build a 13-point advantage, but UConn fought back and trailed by only six at the break, 39-33.

UConn’s Ryan Boatright, the league’s leading scorer at 18 points per game, was held to seven points on 2-of-6 shooting.

Boatright had to leave the court midway through the first half after a brief skirmish near the Tigers bench. In the pushing and shoving match, Boatright was struck in the mouth by Brimah, who appeared to hit Boatright with his elbow. Boatright returned later in the half.

After UConn got two free throws from Brimah for a 6-5 advantage - the Huskies’ only lead of the opening half - the Tigers went on a 12-0 run that included three pointers from Johnson and Avery Woodson and four points from Nichols.

Shortly after the Memphis run, Calvin Godfrey dropped in a pair of free throws for a 21-8 Tiger lead. But the Tigers’ 2-3 zone allowed the Huskies to dominate on the boards and UConn trimmed what was a 13-point deficit to five on a Rodney Purvis jumper with 2:25 remaining in the half. UConn outrebounded the Tigers, 19-9, in the first half.

UConn, the second-best 3-point shooting team in the AAC, went 1 of 9 from beyond the arc in the first half and finished 5 of 20.

 TIP-INS:

Memphis: Against defending NCAA champs, the Tigers are 8-3, including 5-0 at home. …Memphis 6-foot-9 forward Austin Nichols had not played since the Feb. 7 home loss to Temple because of a sprained ankle.

UConn: The Huskies are 14-15 in road games under Kevin Ollie. …UConn senior Ryan Boatright, entering Thursday’s Memphis game, was 33 of 66 from 3-point range in his previous eight games and averaging 21.5 points during the stretch. He was 1 of 4 from 3-point range in the game.

UP NEXT:

Memphis: Sunday at Central Florida.

UConn: Sunday vs. Tulane.


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