Memphis 60, Southern Miss. 58
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP)
Memphis (11-5, 2-0 Conference USA) held an 11-point lead past the midway point of the second half, but had to hold on down the stretch. It wasn't until a 3-point attempt by Southern Mississippi's Cedric Jenkins bounced off the rim that the Tigers victory - their 18th-straight in the series - was assured.
The Memphis victory snapped Southern Mississippi's 11-game winning streak.
Two free throws by Chris Crawford with 31.7 seconds left gave Memphis its final margin.
The game was representative of recent matchups between the two teams. Memphis won all three games last year by a total of 10 points. Wednesday's game had 10 ties and nine lead changes
But still there have been years of futility for the Golden Eagles, who have not defeated the Tigers since 2004.
Memphis broke open a close game in the early minutes of the second half as the Bartons got untracked. Antonio Barton hit a 3-pointer and a 10-footer in the lane.
Then Will Barton gave Memphis its first double-digit lead with a 3-point play off a steal and a drive. The Tigers eventually stretched it to 12 points, their largest margin of the game.
But Southern Miss began connecting on 3-pointers over the Memphis zone defense. A trio of the long-range shots, including two by Johnson, pulled the Golden Eagles within 51-47 at the under-8 minute media timeout.
That was part of a 14-2 rally for Southern Mississippi capped by Page's 3-pointer to give the Golden Eagles their first lead of the second half at 52-51 with just less than 5 minutes to play.
The game was tied at 56-all heading into the final 1:20 after a layup by Jenkins.
It wasn't until Crawford's free throws that Memphis took the lead for good.
Memphis led 29-25 after a closely played first half. The Tigers' four-point advantage was its biggest lead for the half. Southern also had a four-point lead. There were seven ties and seven lead changes before intermission.
The biggest difference was at the foul line, where Memphis was 7 of 10 (70 percent), compared to 2 of 5 (40 percent) for Southern Mississippi
Neither team had a player in double figures. Adonis Thomas had six points to lead Memphis, while Page led the Golden Eagles with eight points.