No. 11 Memphis bounces back from loss, rolls past Nicholls State
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP)
The No. 11 Tigers used a pressure defense and concentrated on feeding the ball inside on Saturday as they easily defeated the Colonels 98-59.
Austin Nichols scored 20 points to lead five Memphis players in double figures. The performance was a satisfactory rebound from a 101-80 loss on Tuesday to No. 7 Oklahoma State.
''I feel like we let our guard down at Oklahoma, and we're not trying to do that no more no matter who we play against,'' said Tiger senior guard Joe Jackson, who scored 18 points, including 14 of 15 from the free throw line.
Michael Dixon had 16 points for Memphis (2-1), while Nick King had 12 points despite going 3 of 12 from the line. Chris Crawford added 11 points.
Nichols, who was 9 of 15 from the field, benefited from the Tigers pounding the ball inside from the beginning.
''We had a big emphasis on that,'' Dixon said. ''Once we got the ball inside, and they had so many problems on the inside, it was hard for them to guard everything else. We've got a lot of offense on this team and a lot of shooters.''
Jeremy Smith had 16 points, the only Colonel to reach double figures. Nicholls State (0-4) was closing out a four-game road trip to open its season.
Nicholls State had 18 turnovers and shot 36 percent.
Memphis made 53 percent of its shots from the field.
''I hate to lose, and I hate to lose like this,'' Colonels coach J.P. Piper said. ''It's a helpless feeling to sit there on that bench and just take that thrashing, and they're raining 3s and dunking the ball in the second half. It looks like we're not out there. I don't like that.''
The Tigers' loss at Oklahoma State on Tuesday was one of their most disappointing performances in coach Josh Pastner's tenure.
Any residual embarrassment left from the Oklahoma State game wasn't evident Saturday. Memphis came out aggressive on both ends of the floor, worked the ball inside and relied on its pressure defense throughout the game.
Pastner said he chewed on his team and got the players' attention in the three days since the loss. Pastner said players like Dixon, a transfer from Missouri, had never seen a fan base react like that.
Still, during Saturday's win, Pastner was much more passive on the sidelines.
''I was on the guys hard, extremely hard the last 72 hours,'' Pastner said. ''I just didn't feel like in the game (Saturday) that they needed me to jump down their throats.''
Memphis dominated the first half, forcing 12 turnovers with its aggressive press. The Colonels' miscues negated their 56 percent shooting midway through the half.
Nichols and Jackson had 13 points apiece to help Memphis carry a 51-29 lead into the break.
Nicholls State hit nine of its first 16 shots and was within 31-22 with 7:36 left in the half. But the Colonels closed the half missing two of their next 11 attempts.
''We had some young guys on the floor, and we decided it was time to run with the Tigers,'' Piper said. ''We weren't quite up to the task, and we went into the next media (timeout) down 18. It was going to be hard anyway, but that just made it that much harder.''
Memphis closed the half on a 20-7 run, shooting 50 percent before the break.
The Tigers would eventually take the lead to 45 with about 3 minutes left in the game.
''It was a blessing for us to lose early in the season,'' Jackson said of the Oklahoma State loss, ''because we can learn from it.''