Memphis forward Precious Achiuwa
had a succinct answer when asked Wednesday night what factor helped the Tigers reduce their turnovers in a win over Temple. For the 16th time in 22 games this season, Memphis accumulated more turnovers (16) than assists (15), but the miscues were down significantly from the 24 Saturday afternoon against Connecticut. With solid shooting both from long range (42 percent) and from the free-throw line (79 percent), the Tigers enjoyed their largest margin of victory since December 28th to improve to 17-5. Now midway through their American Athletic Conference schedule, the Tigers are 6-3 in league play.
"That's a good win for us, against a veteran team in our league," said Tiger coach Penny Hardaway after his team's third straight victory. "It's not always pretty but the boys found ways to get spurts. We finally put a team away. It wasn't as desperate as it's been [recently]."
Hardaway called the game the most balanced his team has played against an AAC foe this season. Achiuwa notched his 12th double-double of the season (13 points, 10 rebounds), but the finalist for the Julius Erving Award played a supplementary role, with Lester Quinones
hitting four three-pointers on his way to 21 points, Boogie Ellis
making all eight of his free throws on his way to 18 points, and Malcolm Dandridge
scoring nine points and grabbing six rebounds in 16 minutes off the bench.
"Before the game, [Hardaway] told me to shoot every time I'm open. When they moved to a zone, it kind of helped. He wanted to come out and dominate tonight. He really wanted to put them away."
In addition to the push-up penalties, Quinones noted a collective effort at making the smart pass over the fancy pass to reduce turnovers. "We did a good job at staying calm," he said, "and relaxing. If they double-team, find the open man. None of those over-the-top passes."
The Tigers led by eight points (33-25) at halftime and stretched the lead to double figures before the midway point of the second half on a Dandridge field goal in traffic. An Achiuwa dunk extended the margin to 15 points (58-43) with just over eight minutes to play and Temple never managed to threaten.
Quinton Rose and Nate Pierre-Louis led the Owls with 13 points each. Temple fell to 11-11 (3-7) with the loss.
"They're respecting the conference more now," noted Hardaway. "These kids had no respect for the conference; I could just tell. The league is making them respect. They're buying in more, because they thought it was going to be really easy. It's been much harder than they thought [it would be]. Every game is a tournament game for us now. You gotta protect home court. You can't be giving any more games away. They understand. They know these are resume games coming up."