Despite never trailing over 40 minutes of regulation play, the Tigers needed five minutes of overtime to escape with a win this afternoon in Orlando. Knights' guard Brandon Goodwin converted a driving layup off the glass with 3.4 seconds left in regulation to tie the score at 59, completing a 14-3 UCF run over the game's final 6:20. But after a Memphis turnover and a desperation UCF heave that went awry, the Tigers scored the first nine points of the extra session to secure their third straight victory and end a three-game winning streak for the Knights.
Tiger forward Austin Nichols didn't start, not because of any lingering effects of his recent ankle injury, but for a violation of team rules since the Tigers last game Thursday night. He entered the game after seven minutes of play and proceeded to lead all scorers with 20 points. His putback of a missed layup attempt opened the scoring in overtime. Markel Crawford then took possession after a UCF turnover and fed Shaq Goodwin with a pass off the backboard, one Goodwin dunked with authority and a scream of delight. A Kedren Johnson three-pointer and a pair of free throws by Avery Woodson extended the lead to 68-59 with 2:28 to play and proved to be all the scoring the U of M needed.
The Tigers opened the game on an 18-2 tear, opened the second half on a 9-1 run, then welcomed overtime with that 9-0 stretch. The Knights simply didn't have the luxury of 20 minutes in overtime to mount a comeback.
Memphis shot 39 percent for the game, while the Knights hit 38 percent from the field. The teams combined to make only 12 of 54 shots from three-point range. Johnson scored 13 points and Woodson 11, while Goodwin led the Tigers with 11 rebounds.
The win improves the Tigers' record to 17-10 (9-5 in the American Athletic Conference standings, good for fifth place currently). The team's toughest four-game stretch of the season awaits, starting when league-leading SMU comes to town Thursday. After the Mustangs, the Tigers will host Tulsa (2/28), then travel to UConn (3/5) and Cincinnati (3/8).