Tigers Shut Down Tulane
Memphis ran their amazing C-USA winning streak to 59 games, as they used stifling defense in a second half rally to take down the Tulane Green Wave, SCORE. Trailing 32-28 with 16:46 left in the second half, the Tigers turned up the intensity on defense and amazingly didn't allow a single point until an Asim McQueen free throw with 3:58 left in the game and Memphis up 46-32.
The Tigers held Tulane to just 25% shooting in the second half (6-24), as the interior presence of Shawn Taggert and Robert Dozier completely dominated the smaller, less talented team from New Orleans. Taggert led Memphis with 19 points and nine rebounds, while super freshman Tyreke Evans added 16 points, all of which came in the second half, and also had five rebounds and four assists.
"The one guy that performed today was Shawn Taggart," Memphis head coach John Calipari said. "If he's not in the game, we get beat. He was the one guy that brought it. Especially in the first half when we were dying."
Tulane had an amazing drought of nearly 16 minutes in the second half without a field goal, and scored just 17 second half points. The Green Wave were led in scoring by Robinson Louisme, who had 10 points and eight rebounds.
"Thank goodness that we're a good defensive team because this was a loss waiting to happen," Memphis head coach John Calipari said.
It was far from a thing of beauty for Memphis, who shot just 39.6% overall and hit on just one of their 13 three-point attempts, but as usual their defense showed up big and they are moving on.
"You look around and you know that we're human," Calipari said. "These kids are not machines. They are not computers. Tulane thought they could beat us and I could feel that the way that they were playing. We just didn't bring it."
Memphis will face the winner of Houston-UTEP tomorrow evening in the second semi-final of the C-USA tournament. The victory ran Memphis' national-best winning streak to 22 games.
Cougars Hold On
The Houston Cougars (21-10) blew an early 19-point advantage, but regrouped to take down the fourth seeded UTEP Miners (19-12), 89-85 in an overtime thriller.
The Houston Cougars raced off to a hot shooting start, while UTEP was struggling from everywhere on the field. With Houston up 26-9, it seemed evident that we were in for another blowout. Then all of a sudden, shots started falling for C-USA all-time leading scorer Stefon Jackson and the UTEP Miners, as they went on a 17-0 run to trim the Houston lead to just three points. Jackson led the Miners with 11 first half points on 5-10 shooting.
"I talked about that we have been in this position a couple times this year," UTEP head coach Tony Barbee said. "A couple games ago, we were down 15 points with 10 inutes to go and we found a way. We found a way in this game."
The Cougars then regrouped and finished the half on an 8-3 run to take a 34-29 lead into the break. Houston was led in scoring by guard Kelvin Lewis, who scored 12 points, and Marcus Cousin added 11 points and five rebounds.
The game went back and forth in the second half, and UTEP's Stefon Jackson connected on a short jumper to tie the game and send it into overtime with less than ten seconds remaining. Houston then took over in the extra frame and coasted to victory. Guard Aubrey Coleman led the Cougars with 24 points, and guard Kelvin Lewis added 22. Center Marcus Cousin tallied 16 points and 12 rebounds. Playing in his final C-USA game, Stefon Jackon scored a game-high 38 points before fouling out in overtime.
Houston will now have the daunting task of trying to be the first C-USA team in three years to take down the Memphis Tigers…on their home court. That game will begin at approximately 4:00 EST.
"We're pleased to move o and get to the semi-finals, but that's a heck of a task after a ball game like this," Houston head coach Tom Penders said following the game. "But that's what these tournaments are all about. That's where stars are made, and hopefully, we have enough in the gas tank to hang in and make it interesting. That' all we can do."
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