The Tigers earned their first victory of 2015 — and ended a two-game losing streak — with a lopsided win over Houston at Hofheinz Pavilion this afternoon. Led by sophomore Austin Nichols (16 points and 8 rebounds), the U of M improved to 9-6 on the season and evened its record at 2-2 in American Athletic Conference play. The Cougars, meanwhile, fell to 7-8 (0-4), losing to the Tigers for the second time in less than two weeks. Nichols reached double figures in scoring for the ninth consecutive game.
Memphis enjoyed an 11-0 run to take an early 11-3 lead, only to watch the Cougars go on a 12-2 tear. Kedren Johnson and Trahson Burrell (the latter back in action after a one-game suspension) hit back-to-back jumpers to give the Tigers a 25-19 lead with 2:25 to play in the first half, and the Cougars trailed the rest of the game. A 13-0 Memphis run midway through the second half gave the Tigers a 47-30 lead. The final margin of 18 points makes this the 14th out of 15 Tiger games this season decided by at least 10 points. And it's the Tigers' first win of the 2014-15 campaign on an opponent's floor.
Markel Crawford started for the Tigers and scored 12 points. Johnson came off the bench for some rare playing time and contributed 10 points and four assists. Calvin Godfrey started for the first time this season, while Shaq Goodwin came off the bench (8 points, 5 rebounds). Sophomore forward Nick King returned to action after missing three games with an ankle injury.
The Tigers held the free-shooting Cougars to 25 percent from beyond the three-point arc and 34 percent overall. The U of M had 16 assists against 13 turnovers and outrebounded Houston, 35-31.
Memphis returns to FedExForum next Thursday night for a 6 pm tilt with Cincinnati.