Memphis 67, East Carolina 54
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP)
Jackson was 7 of 11 from the field as Memphis (11-3, 1-0 Conference USA) won its fifth straight. D.J. Stephens had six points, grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked three shots for the Tigers.
Shamarr Bowden, who keyed a second-half run for East Carolina (9-5, 0-1), and Maurice Kemp led the Pirates with 11 points each. Robert Sampson and Miguel Paul finished with 10 points apiece. Paul was 2 for 7 from the field, but 2 of 3 from outside the arc.
Memphis led by 27 in the first half, but East Carolina used 3-point shooting to score 21 straight points spanning the first and second halves to make the game interesting.
East Carolina's rally cut the lead to single digits on several occasions in the second half, but the Pirates could get no closer than 61-54 on Sampson's 3-pointer with 3:04 remaining.
Memphis would end the night controlling the boards 41-23, including 14 offensive rebounds leading to 13 second-chance points.
East Carolina connected on a 3-pointer to start the game, but that was the biggest highlight for a while for the Pirates.
East Carolina went 8-plus minutes after that without a field goal as Memphis forced turnovers and got on the boards.
The Tigers scored 13 unanswered points for the first double-digit lead of the game and built the advantage to as much as 39-12.
Kemp scored the last seven points of the half for East Carolina to cut the Memphis margin to 39-19 at intermission.
Jackson had seven points for Memphis, which shot 48.6 percent for the half (17 of 35). Kemp and Paul had seven points each for the Pirates, who managed 30 percent from the field (6 of 20) and committed 12 turnovers.
By that point, Memphis had outrebounded the Pirates 23-11, 10 of the Tigers rebounds coming from the offensive glass.
But East Carolina continued its streak of unanswered points, opening the second half with 14 straight, as Bowden connected from outside the arc, the Pirates hitting their first four shots from 3-point range.
When Bowden connected from outside with 17:20 left, the Tigers' lead was down to 39-33.
Memphis would rebuild the lead to double digits on several occasions, and the Tigers never really were threatened, although East Carolina stayed close enough to keep Memphis from comfortably closing the game.