No. 18 Memphis survives for overtime win

With No. 18 Memphis trailing by 15 points in the second half, Charles Carmouche came out firing.

Then Chris Crawford followed Carmouche’s lead in the overtime.

Crawford scored six of his 18 points in the extra frame, Carmouche had 16 points while keying a second-half rally and the Tigers beat Austin Peay 70-68 on Thursday night.

”There is no such thing as a bad win,” Memphis coach Josh Pastner said. ”We found a way to win. We were down 15. We were just not playing well. We grinded it out, and found a way to win.

” Games like that, I’m 33, but my body feels like 88. It just wears on you, but we found a way to win.”

Austin Peay’s Justin Blake missed a 3-pointer with 2 seconds left, but the Governors (6-6) still had the ball out of bounds with .7 seconds left in overtime. They couldn’t get off a shot, although the Governors’ bench was calling for a foul on the play.

TyShwan Edmondson led the Governors with 22 points and 10 rebounds, while Melvin Baker finished with 17 points and 11 boards.

Memphis (8-1) was a different looking team than its last game, an 81-68 loss to Kansas at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 7. In the ensuing nine days, forward Wesley Witherspoon had right knee surgery, reserve D.J. Stephens injured his groin and Angel Garcia quit the team to play professionally in Spain.

That left Memphis with only nine scholarship players in uniform against Austin Peay.

The teams were tied at 56 after regulation. Austin Peay had the last possession in regulation, but Edmondson’s shot on a drive down the left side was blocked by Tarik Black as time expired.

Crawford hit two 3-pointers to open the Tigers’ scoring in overtime, part of him connecting on 5 of 8 outside the arc in the game.

”They were cotton as soon as they left my hand,” he said of the long-range shots in overtime.

Although Austin Peay tied the game at 62, Memphis never relinquished the lead after Will Barton hit a 3-pointer with 1:46 left, part of Memphis hitting three of its four shots outside the arc in overtime.

”We decided that they were going to pack it in,” Austin Peay coach Dave Loos said of the Tigers’ offense. ”You’re going to give them some looks outside, and they made them. The made some shots outside the arc on us, but our effort was terrific.”

Memphis was lucky to escape, particularly after a scoring drought in the middle of the game.

Austin Peay scored 21 straight points spanning halftime to take a 35-24 lead 3 minutes into the second half. The Governors had steals on the first four Tiger possessions of the second half to fuel their rally, and hit their first seven shots. The lead eventually reached 43-28 after consecutive 3-pointers from Edmondson and Blake.

”It was great,” Loos said of the opening of the second half, when the Governors scored 16 straight points, ”but you know that (Memphis) plays so hard defensively. You knew that they would make a hard run and come back, and they did.”

Carmouche would convert a four-point play to start the Tigers’ rally. Memphis would craft a 19-4 run to even at 47. Carmouche had 10 points in the stretch, and the Tigers started connecting from long range.

”Coach was looking down the bench for a guy to put in, and I said: ‘Coach, I’m ready,”’ Carmouche said. ”When I came in the game, I was going to do anything I had to do to help this team win.”

His energy and the rally had the Memphis fans, who were booing their team minutes earlier as the Governors pulled away, back on their feet cheering the Tigers. Carmouche had only one point at halftime.

”Charles Carmouche played big in the second half,” Pastner said. ”The first half, he was not good. But he’s one of our veteran guys, and he really stepped up in the second half and was one of the guys that saved us.”