The Tigers overcame a lethargic first half tonight at FedExForum and beat winless Southeast Missouri State to improve to 5-2 on the season. Double-doubles by Dedric Lawson
(28 points, 14 rebounds) and Ricky Tarrant Jr.
(15 points, 10 assists) led the way as the U of M won its third straight game despite a considerably shortened bench.
Trahson Burrell (hip) and K.J. Lawson (Achilles heel) didn't play, forcing the Tigers' five starters to each play at least 30 minutes. No Memphis reserve played as many as 10 minutes, though senior Kedren Johnson
made his season debut.
Now 0-7 for the season, the RedHawks traded punches early with the Tigers and had the score tied at 33 with just over a minute to play before halftime. Not until Avery Woodson
drained a three-pointer to give Memphis a 68-57 lead with 3:30 left in the game did the Tigers have what could be considered a comfortable advantage. Woodson scored 10 points and dished out six assists without committing a turnover.
Memphis coach Josh Pastner
was pleased with his team's assist numbers (22 on 31 made field goals, and only 11 turnovers, but found areas for improvement. "We're gonna see more zone," he said, "and we're gonna have to put the ball in the basket. [The Tigers were three for 16 from long range.] It's good to get a win, but it will be nice to have a week off and clean up some things."
Lawson had six points and seven rebounds at halftime and credited his father, assistant coach Keelon Lawson, with spurring his dynamic (22 points) second half. "My dad got me at halftime," said Dedric after the game. "Gave me a little speech to motivate me."
"Dedric's a stud," said Pastner. "There's no doubt about it. If he played the game starting at [tipoff], he might have had 40 and 25. He didn't play well in the first seven or eight minutes. He's too good. For our team to be successful, he's got to be successful."
Senior Shaq Goodwin
hit nine of 16 from the field and scored 20 points. "This is the third straight game Shaq's played at a high level," said Pastner. "He's got a great motor." He helped the Tigers dominate the inside game, outscoring SEMO 54-30 in the paint.
Marcus Wallace came off the bench to lead SEMO with 16 points.
The Tigers will have a week off now before returning to action next Saturday against Manhattan at FedExForum.