How far this Memphis team might go in March with an under-performing Adonis Thomas is one thing. How far the team might go with the former McDonald's All-American playing like the future pro most scouts think he is . . . that's another thing.
The pride of Melrose High School scored a career-high 23 points tonight at Marshall and, with 10 rebounds, achieved his first double-double as a Tiger to help the nation's 22nd-ranked team beat the Thundering Herd for its 16th straight victory. The Tigers improve to 22-3 on the season, 11-0 in Conference USA play.
Marshall jumped out on top, 10-3, only to suffer a 22-5 run at the hands of the Tigers. Thomas scored 10 points in the game's first seven minutes and had 15 by halftime. Reserve forward Ferrakohn Hall matched his season high with eight points before the break and Memphis led 43-26 after 20 minutes.
The Tigers missed their first seven shots of the second half and saw their lead diminished to five (46-41) midway through the period. But just as he did at Tennessee and at SMU, junior guard Geron Johnson rose to the occasion with daggers from the outside, burying a trey to extend the Memphis lead to 49-41 (at the 10:25 mark), then another for a 56-43 lead with 8:18 left to play. A three-pointer by DeAndre Kane brought the Herd within nine (64-55) with 3:14 to play, but the outcome would not be in doubt the rest of the way.
The Tigers won despite two rotation players (D.J. Stephens and Tarik Black) fouling out. They won despite Stephens, Black, Shaq Goodwin, and Chris Crawford combining for 15 points. Junior guard Joe Jackson scored 12 points and Johnson finished with 11. The 16-game winning streak is the fifth-longest in Tiger history.
The Tigers return to action Wednesday night when they host Houston at FedExForum (tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m.).