There are must-win games, now and then, over the course of a college basketball season. Less celebrated are the "must-not-lose" games. Memphis face one of these Sunday afternoon at South Florida and, thanks to a second-half comeback that erased a 14-point deficit, secured the victory and ended a two-game losing streak.
took a pass from Alex Lomax
on a pick-and-roll and dunked the ball from the left side to a break a 61-61 tie with 1:51 left to play in the game. Neither team would make another field goal, but the Tigers hit five of eight shots from the free-throw line to clinch the win and improve to 13-3 for the season (2-1 in the American Athletic Conference). Achiuwa notched his fifth straight double-double (and ninth for the season) with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Tyler Harris
came off the bench and scored 17 points.
The Tigers trailed by eight points (37-29) at halftime and 14 (51-37) with just over 13 minutes left in the contest. But the Bulls went ice-cold from the field for the balance of the game, allowing Memphis to survive a game in which it compiled more turnovers (22) than assists (16).
David Collins led the Bulls (8-9, 1-3) with 24 points, but had a late shot blocked by Achiuwa with the Tigers clinging to a four-point lead.
Tiger coach Penny Hardaway changed sixty percent of his starting lineup, replacing Damion Baugh, Boogie Ellis, and Isaiah Maurice with Lomax, Malcolm Dandridge
, and Lester Quinones
. Quinones scored 13 points in 22 minutes of action.
The Tigers return to play Thursday night when they face Cincinnati (10-6) at FedExForum. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m.