Jan. 18, 2009
It was the first full day of Conference USA contests as all 12 teams played a league opponent. Memphis improved to 4-0 and won its 46th straight C-USA game with an 81-68 victory over UAB, the last team to defeat the Tigers. Southern Miss handed Houston its first league loss and the two teams are tied with Tulsa and UTEP for second place. UCF and SMU earned their first conference wins of the 2008-09 season, defeating Rice and Tulane, respectively.
MEMPHIS 81, UAB 68
Freshman Tyreke Evans scored 24 points to lead Memphis to an 81-68 win over UAB on Saturday night. The Blazers were led by senior guard Paul Delaney III, who scored a season-high 26 points in the losing effort.
Four other players scored in double figures for Memphis (14-3, 4-0 Conference USA). Willie Kemp had 14 points, including 4-of-6 from outside the arc, part of Memphis going 9-of-16 (56 percent) from long-range. Senior Antonio Anderson and Doneal Mack each had 11 points for the Tigers, while Robert Dozier finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Along with Delaney's 26 points, Robert Vaden and Lawrence Kinnard scored 12 points apiece. All of Vaden's points came in the first half.
The Blazers (10-7, 1-2 C-USA) jumped out to an early lead to start the game and led by as many as 11 points on a Kinnard three-pointer to give his team a 26-15 advantage with 9:08 remaining in the opening half. UAB held the lead the entire first half until Evans' two free throws gave the Tigers the lead at 34-33 with 2:30 ledt before the intermission. The Tigers would go on to lead by three at the half, 42-39.
Memphis continued its surge in the beginning of the second half and would extend its lead to 55-45 with 13:40 remaining. The Blazers cut the lead to seven on several occasions, the last time coming on a Channing Toney 3-pointer to cut the lead to 73-66. However, Memphis answered with an 8-0 run to ice the contest.
The victory was the Tigers' 46th straight in Conference USA, including the postseason. UAB was the last team to defeat Memphis in conference play with an 80-74 win in Birmingham on March 2, 2006.
SOUTHERN MISS 83, HOUSTON 76
Houston junior guard Kelvin Lewis scored a career-high 30 points, including seven 3-pointers, but it would not be quite enough as Southern Miss (11-5, 2-1 C-USA) claimed an 83-76 win over Houston (11-4, 2-1) Saturday afternoon inside Reed Green Coliseum.
Southern Miss senior Craig Craft scored 21 points, including three 3-pointers, to lead four Golden Eagles in double digits. Senior Courtney Beasley posted his fifth career double-double with 20 points and 13 rebounds, while junior Jeremy Wise and sophomore R.L. Horton added 11 points apiece. Gustavo Lino also recorded 11 rebounds for the Golden Eagles.
Hitting 53.8 percent of its shots in the second half, Southern Miss built a 59-42 advantage when Wise hit a pair of free throws with 6:52 left in the game. With a combination of outside shooting by the Cougars and poor free throw shooting by the Golden Eagles, UH chipped away at the deficit and pulled to within 73-68 when Lewis hit a trey and was fouled with only 61 seconds left in the game.
However, the Golden Eagles used four free throws from Horton and Beasley to build an 78-70 lead with 29 seconds to go. Lewis's seventh and final trey of the night pulled the Cougars to within 78-73, but that would be as close as the Cougars would get the rest of the way. Beasley hit four straight free throws in the final 19 seconds to ice the win.
While the Golden Eagles were hitting the majority of their shots in the second half, the Cougars struggled at times from the field in the final 20 minutes, hitting only 14-of-40 shots.
The two teams battled back and forth to a 33-33 tie early in the second half, before the Golden Eagles used a 24-9 run over the next 11:53 to build their biggest lead of the game.
Playing all but seven seconds in the game, Lewis tied his career high with seven treys, first set against Valparaiso during the 2008 College Basketball Invitational quarterfinals at Hofheinz Pavilion. His total tied for the third highest in UH single-game history.
UH junior guard Aubrey Coleman recorded his team-leading sixth double-double of the season with 14 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Cougars, while senior guard DaShaun Williams came off the bench to score a season-high 16 points, including a pair of 3-pointers in the loss.
UTEP 88, EAST CAROLINA 67
Sophomore guard Randy Culpepper scored 17 of his 25 points in the second half as UTEP rolled to its third straight road victory with an 88-67 decision over East Carolina on Saturday.
UTEP (11-6, 2-1 C-USA) went up 30-13 with 8:23 remaining in the first half, then lost almost all of the lead prior to halftime before dominating the second period. The Pirates (9-7, 1-2 C-USA) rallied behind sophomore guard Brock Young - who had 11 points in the first half - to close the gap to 41-36 at the intermission. But UTEP scored the first six points of the second half, and later blew the game open with a 16-0 run that extended a 50-48 lead to 66-48.
The Miners pretty much had their way offensively against the Pirates, shooting 48.5 percent from the field - including 56.3 percent in the second half - and drilling 8-of-17 three point shots.
Culpepper made 10-of-17 shots and 4-of-8 three pointers, while adding four of the Miners' 14 steals. Senior guard Stefon Jackson netted 19 points despite an off shooting night (6-for-21 from the floor), and also had four thefts. Sophomore Julyan Stone chipped in with 13 points and seven assists, with all of his points coming prior to the intermission.
Young was the lone player in double figure scoring for the Pirates, finishing with 18 points on 6-of-13 shooting. He was responsible for five of ECU's 19 turnovers.
UTEP also wouldn't let the Pirates get going from 3-point range. ECU came into the game averaging a league-best 8.5 triples per game, but finished 5-for-19 from beyond the arc.
The Miners have put together three consecutive road wins for the first time since the 2004-05 season, when they prevailed at New Mexico State, Boise State and Nevada in succession. UTEP, 2-0 in conference road games this season, was 1-7 on the road in league play each of the last two years.
UTEP will shoot for four road victories in a row on Wednesday at UAB. Rather than traveling all the way back to El Paso and back out East on Tuesday, the Miners will spend two days in Memphis on Sunday and Monday. UTEP players and coaches will visit the Civil Rights Museum on Martin Luther King Day Monday.
TULSA 69, MARSHALL 50
Tulsa junior center Jerome Jordan scored a career-high 25 points and snared 10 rebounds to lead Tulsa to a 69-50 win over Marshall on Saturday.
The 7-footer scored the Golden Hurricane's first eight points, reached double figures in the first eight minutes and had 16 by halftime as Tulsa (12-6, 2-1 Conference USA) opened up a 37-21 lead. Jordan made 7-of-12 field-goal attempts and 11-of-12 free throws and added three blocked shots.
Junior Ben Uzoh, who had 16 points, four rebounds and three assists, limped off with 4:43 left after suffering a slight ankle sprain.
Tulsa shot 47.7 percent from the floor and limited Marshall (8-9, 1-2 C-USA) to just 30 percent shooting (15-of-50) for the game.
Marshall was led by freshman point guard Damier Pitts who scored a team-high 19 points. Freshman Dago Pena earned his first start and grabbed a team-high five rebounds to go along with five points.
The Golden Hurricane dominated the boards, out-rebounding the Herd 41-23. Marshall did force 18 TU turnovers, while only committing eight.
Marshall sophomore Marcus Goode saw his first game action since having knee surgery on Jan. 5. Goode played seven minutes and contributed two points and three blocks.
UCF 75, RICE 52
Senior guard Jermiane Taylor totaled a game-high 20 points and junior forward Tony Davis recorded a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds as UCF defeated Rice for a 77-52 Conference USA win at Tudor Fieldhouse Saturday. The Knights (11-6, 1-2 C-USA) outscored Rice 47-22 after intermission.
With the score tied at 42 with 14:43 left in the game, Davis sparked a 14-0 run that allowed UCF to pull away. He started the spurt by hitting back-to-back 3-pointers. Taylor had eight points during the run, which he capped with a triple at the 10:29 mark that gave the Knights a 56-42 edge.
After the score was knotted at 30 at intermission, UCF shot 61.3 percent overall and 83.3 percent from deep in the second half. The Knights limited Rice (6-11, 1-2 C-USA) to just a 5-of-22 (.227) shooting effort in the final 20 minutes.
UCF shot 54.2 percent from the field for the game. The squad made 7-of-13 (.538) of its 3-point field goal attempts. Taylor connected on 8-of-13 field goals, including a 3-of-4 showing from 3-point range. Davis scored 13 points after intermission. Six of his 12 boards were on the offensive end. The Knights dominated inside, scoring 36 points in the paint. UCF finished the contest with a 39-24 advantage on the glass.
Three UCF players finished with double-digits in scoring as senior center Kenrick Zondervan recorded 12 points. The Knights totaled 20 assists versus the Owls.
Freshman Connor Frizzelle paced Rice with 14 points, making his first four field goals of the game.
SMU 60, TULANE 51
Tulane senior Robinson Louisme led all scorers with 19 points, but SMU caught fire in the second half and rallied to a 60-51 Conference USA win in front of 2,918 at Moody Coliseum. The Mustangs hit 78.9 percent of its field goal attempts, and used a 15-4 run that proved too much for the Green Wave.
Tulane (7-10, 1-3 C-USA) and SMU (6-9, 1-2 C-USA) were knotted at 21 apiece at halftime, but the Mustangs opened the second half with a 9-2 run and led 30-23 before junior Kevin Sims and sophomore Kris Richard nailed back-to-back three-pointers to pull the Wave to within a single point at 14:21.
However, the Mustangs delivered the knockout blow with a 15-4 run over the next 6:31 to build a 45-33 lead that concluded on a jumper by Derek Williams, who scored 10 of his team-high 17 points in the second period. Sims ended the SMU run with his second trey of the night that sliced the lead to single digits, 45-36, but the Mustangs outscored the Wave 6-2 over the next two minutes and built a 14-point lead, its largest of the game, on a 3-pointer by Williams at 5:38.
Tulane did manage to pull to within eight points on a pair of free throws by Sims with 0:32 remaining, but could not get any closer.
SMU torched the nets during the final 20 minutes, hitting 15-of-19 field goal attempts, including 3-of-4 treys, for 78.9 percent, and finished 53.5 percent for the game after hitting just 33.3 percent of its looks in the first half. Meanwhile, the Green Wave shot 31 percent in the opening period and 35.5 percent in the final half for a 33.3 effort from the field for the contest.
The Mustangs' big three post players led SMU's effort on the boards and helped outrebound the Wave, 40-29. Tulane did force 23 turnovers for the game, with 13 coming on steals, while committing just 13 miscues. SMU countered with a school record 10 blocked shots, including five from senior C Bamba Fall.
Along with his 19 points, Louisme also added a game-best nine rebounds and came up with three steals, while Sims was the only other Green Wave player to finish in double figures with 10 points.
McCoy joined Williams in double figures with 13 points.
The opening half of the first period featured runs by both teams. Tulane's Asim McQueen scored the opening basket of the contest, but SMU reeled off a 10-0 run to take a quick 10-2 advantage. The Mustangs' run was spurred by baskets from its big three post players, Mouhammad Faye, Fall and a pair of jumpers from Papa Dia.
Senior Daniel Puckett snapped the run with a jumper at the 15:15 mark and his basket ignited an 8-0 spurt for the Green Wave, which featured lay-ups from Louisme, Sims and Richard. Lousime, who scored 11 points in the opening period, buried a pair of free throws at the 9:50 mark to bring TU to within a point.
SMU extended its lead to three points on a jumper from Williams, but Louisme stole an errant pass in the open court and finished at the other end to once again pull the Wave to a single point. The Wave defense came up with a stop on the ensuing possession on a steal by Richard and the sophomore gave Tulane its second and final lead of the game with his lay-up at 6:19.