Thomas scores 22 as No. 21 Memphis beats Houston
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP)
Thomas also had eight rebounds and Crawford finished one assist shy of a triple-double as the Tigers (23-3, 12-0 Conference USA) held on through a final flurry by the Cougars. Tarik Black scored 15 points, while D. J. Stephens had 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting and 10 rebounds for Memphis. Joe Jackson also scored 11 points with six assists.
Joseph Young led the Cougars (15-10, 4-8) with 22 points, while TaShawn Thomas added 20 points. Danuel House scored 16 points on 6-for-9 shooting as Houston lost its second straight and third in the last four.
Memphis dominated the boards 40-25, including 13 offensive rebounds leading to 18 second-chance points. The Tigers finished the night shooting 54 percent, including 57 percent in the second half. Besides Stephens missing only one of his seven shots, Black was 7 of 9 from the field.
However, Houston also caused 19 Tigers turnovers, leading to 26 points and keeping the Cougars in the game down the stretch.
House and Thomas teamed to rally Houston back into the game early in the second half. The pair accounted for 10 straight Houston points to pull even at 41 before the first media timeout.
Black took over at that point, scoring six straight points for the Tigers as Memphis retook the lead, reaching 59-49 with 10:41 left when Black converted a three-point play.
That started a stretch of eight straight points for the Tigers, pushing the lead to 15 points, a margin later matched near the 3-minute mark as Crawford converted a 3-pointer.
Houston then turned up the defensive pressure, while Young and Thomas were scoring.
But that wasn't enough as the Cougars couldn't overtake the Tigers.
Thomas had 12 points for Memphis at the half, including a tip-in in the waning seconds to provide the Tigers with a 35-28 lead at the break.
Thomas was 4 of 8 in a half that included poor ball-handling by both teams. The Tigers committed 10 turnovers, while the Cougars had nine.
Memphis did shoot 50 percent for the half compared to 41 percent for Houston, but the 3-point effort was poor as the teams were a combined 3 of 15.
Houston held an early lead, but it was erased by 13 consecutive points for Memphis, capped by a 3-pointer from Crawford, the Tigers only long-range bucket of the half.
The rally gave Memphis its first double-digit lead, a margin it would match with about 3 minutes left before intermission.