Forty-eight hours after taking the country's 8th-ranked team to the wire, Memphis slogged through 20 minutes against one of the weakest teams on its schedule before pulling away after halftime. Incorporating a full-court press defense shortly before halftime, the U of M created a pace of play that proved uncomfortable for Grambling. Memphis scored 21 points off 15 turnovers and pulled away after halftime, a 15-6 run over five minutes sparked by eight points from senior forward Shaq Goodwin
, who didn't so much as take a shot in the first half.
"It was a back-to-back game, and we were recovering," said freshman forward K.J. Lawson, who came off the bench to score 13 points in 25 minutes. "It's hard to get up for certain teams, but we have to come out and have the same energy, whether it's one person in the crowd or 20,000."
K.J.'s younger brother, Dedric
, led Memphis with 16 points and pulled down six rebounds. "It's self-motivation," emphasized Dedric. "You have to treat every team the same."
A third freshman, Jeremiah Martin
, hit a pair of three-pointers to spark the victory, further securing his role as backup to senior point guard Ricky Tarrant
(12 points). As a team, though, the U of M has yet to find any rhythm from beyond the arc, hitting only five of 19 against Grambling. It was a different story from the free-throw stripe, though, as Memphis players combined to shoot 80 percent (28 for 35). The Lawson brothers combined to hit 14 of 20 from the line and Tarrant connected on all six of his freebies.
Senior forward Trahson Burrell
came off the bench to score 12 points and grab six rebounds, his third straight game in double figures on the scoreboard.
After shooting 52 percent from the field in the first half, Grambling struggled in the second, connecting on only nine of 30 shots (30 percent). Mark Gray, Nigel Ribeiro, and Ervin Mitchell led the visitors with 13 points each. Grambling falls to 1-3 on the young season, while Memphis improves to 2-1.
The victory gives 38-year-old Memphis coach Josh Pastner
150 wins for his career, a milestone reached by only four previous U of M coaches. "It's the players who have won the games, not me," said Pastner. "If you'd asked me seven years ago if I'd have 150 wins at this point . . . I was just trying to win our first exhibition game, then beat Jackson State in our first [regular-season] game. People ask if it's been a quick ride. No, it's been a battle. I've got a lot more gray than before I started. I'm only 38. That being said, all credit goes to our players."
The Tigers return to FedExForum Monday night when UT-Arlington comes to town.