In a season Josh Pastner likes to compare with peaks and valleys, the coach's team may have hit rock bottom tonight in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Entering the game on a three-game winning streak, Memphis took a 9-5 lead over eight minutes of sloppy play, then surrendered the lead for good when Tulsa went on an 11-2 run midway through the first half. Down just seven (30-23) at halftime, the Tigers were declawed over the first nine minutes of the second half. They needed a 14-0 run to merely cut the Golden Hurricane lead in half (to 56-42).
For the 17th time in 18 games played by the U of M, the final scoring margin was in double figures. This team does not play close games.
Tulsa was led by its dynamic backcourt duo of James Woodard (16 points) and Shaquille Harrison (18 points, 10 rebounds). The 2014 Conference USA champions are now 6-0 as new members of the American Athletic Conference and 13-5 overall. Meanwhile Memphis falls into the AAC's second tier with a conference mark of 4-3 (11-7 overall). The Golden Hurricane extended its winning streak to eight games and ended a 10-game winning streak for the Tigers in Tulsa.
Avery Woodson led the Tigers with 15 points and Austin Nichols added 12. No other Memphis player scored more than six. The Tigers gave up 25 offensive rebounds and committed 16 turnovers which contributed to Tulsa taking 65 shots in 40 minutes. Rarely will you see a team blown out by 18 points when it shoots a higher percentage from the field (43 percent) than its opponent (39 percent). Tulsa also missed 13 of 34 free throws.
The Tigers will next travel to New Orleans to face Tulane Saturday. The Green Wave beat Memphis at FedExForum on January 3rd.