The Tigers withstood a late run by Tulane in a near-empty Devlin Fieldhouse Sunday to secure their second straight win and sixth in seven games. (The New Orleans Saints were hosting an NFL playoff game at the same time.) Senior guard Jeremiah Martin
scored a season-high 27 points and converted a critical layup with less than a minute to play to give Memphis a five-point lead (79-74). Martin's free throws with 13 seconds left proved to be the final points of the game as the Tigers improved to 11-6 for the season and 3-1 in the American Athletic Conference.
Through Sunday's games, Memphis is one of five AAC teams with only one loss, UCF being the lone undefeated team in league play.
The Tigers raced out to a 22-9 lead against the Green Wave (4-12, 0-4) and were up 15 (49-34) at halftime, thanks largely to Martin's 8-of-10 shooting from the field. (With his 27 points, Martin passed Ronnie Robinson, Otis Jackson, and Vincent Askew on the Tigers' career scoring chart and now ranks 31st.) They led 74-62 before Tulane surged, closing the Tiger lead to two (74-72) with just under three minutes to play.
Junior forward Isaiah Maurice
missed a dunk attempt but was fouled and hit one of his two shots for a 75-72 Memphis lead. Kevin Zhang (25 points) missed a jumper and Maurice followed with a reverse layup in a crowded lane for a 77-72 Tiger advantage with 1:15 on the clock. Blake Paul (15 points off the bench) converted a layup for Tulane, but Martin answered with his clutch layup to all but secure the victory.
scored 17 points for the Tigers and Raynere Thornton
added 12. Tulane commanded the glass, pulling down 42 rebounds (15 on the offensive end) to the Tigers' 33.
Memphis has now won six straight games against its longtime rivals from New Orleans. (The teams will play at FedExForum on February 20th.)
The Tigers now have five days off before hosting SMU (11-5, 3-1) on Saturday. Tip-off is scheduled for 3 p.m.