ORLANDO, Fla. – The day of second-half runs continued into the second winner's bracket game Friday, when No. 21 Memphis (3-1) overcame a four-point halftime deficit to beat LSU (4-2) by a final of 76-69.
Josh Pastner's Tigers were paced by freshman forward Austin Nichols, who finished with 19 points and eight rebounds. In the backcourt Memphis also got a combined 33 points from starters Joe Jackson and Chris Crawford.
The Bayou Bengals, who led for most of the ballgame's first 28 minutes, couldn't get out of their own way. LSU committed 24 turnovers, compared to 10 for Memphis, which is the same number big man Johnny O'Bryant had by himself.
O'Bryant did have 14 points and nine rebounds to go with the giveaways. Anthony Hickey had a season-high 20 points while freshman Jordan Mickey posted 10 points, six rebounds and four blocks.
Memphis advances to the championship game Sunday night at 7:30 p.m. ET, when the Tigers will get a rematch with No. 5 Oklahoma State. LSU will play Butler in the third-place game Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.
THREE-POINT PLAY: MEMPHIS
- Coach Josh Pastner on bouncing back from loss at Oklahoma State: "It's Memphis, in terms of the city. People in the city were upset. We were all upset. I tried to say it's a process and it's going to take some time. We have nine new guys. We're not a team that's been together for a long time. I knew it was going to take some time. I also knew one of the key things for this team was how do we handle adversity?"
- Pastner on playing Cowboys again: "Oklahoma State is a great team. They've got a great player obviously in Marcus Smart. Travis Ford does a tremendous job with their team. It's the next game on our schedule. I'm not big into revenge. It's the next game. We just have to get better and trust the process. When you look at our schedule, we don't have time to get up one game."
- Austin Nichols on his confidence: "I gotta give it up to my guards for getting me the ball. If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't have done half of what I did tonight … It's good I've taken the responsibility and stepped up. I love my teammates. It's been a good season so far. I've just got to keep going."
THREE-POINT PLAY: LSU
- Coach Johnny Jones on game's pace: "I thought it was a quick-paced game. Both teams tried to execute in the halfcourt when they got down there … We thought we did a good job of contesting shots and holding them to a low field goal percentage in the first half … There was just a little stretch there late in the second half where we turned the ball over, and they made plays down the stretch and we didn't."
- Jones on why Andre Stringer played so seldom in second half: "Because of the length that we had out there on the floor, on the wings, defensively, we could prevent them from taking our guards (down inside). Between Shavon and Malik, they did a good job with their length, holding them at bay for a while."
- Jones on Butler/day off: "You talk about their program and the tradition of it, going to two final fours in a row. They had a very good basketball game today. It will be a tough challenge for us on Sunday … The day off is going to help us. It's going to give us an opportunity to probably rest a little bit more. We'll be rested and fresh for the game on Sunday."
FINAL: Memphis 76 - LSU 69
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