Having dropped 14 spots in the AP rankings, the Memphis Tigers have some climbing to do before the national media forgets the two games they lost in three days at the Maui Invitational. With the weather outside FedExForum far from tropical, the U of M began that climb against another Tiger squad that has long been an early-season punching bag.
Tied at 13 with nine minutes to play in the first half, the game tilted toward the home team over the next 13 minutes of play (bridging halftime) as Memphis went on a 27-6 run sparked by a pair of three-pointers from sophomore guard Chris Crawford. The U of M limited JSU to 19 first-half points on 28-percent shooting.
Memphis coach Josh Pastner altered his starting lineup for the first time in five games, replacing guard Charles Carmouche (for disciplinary reasons) with Crawford and center Tarik Black with Stan Simpson. With 14 points, Crawford was one of two Memphis players to reach double figures (Joe Jackson led all scorers with 15). Simpson scored seven points and pulled down a team-high 10 rebounds.
Memphis lost the rebounding battle for the fourth time in five games, 36-29. Jenirro Bush — the preseason SWAC Player of the Year — led JSU with 11 points.
The U of M — now ranked 22nd in the country — improves to 3-2 and will next play Saturday night (again at FEF) when Austin Peay comes to town.