No. 14 Memphis 102, Tenn.-Martin 80
Demoted from a starter to the far end of the Memphis bench, Will Coleman finally got going.
Coleman scored a career-high 20 points to help the Tigers to a 102-80 victory over Tennessee-Martin.
Coleman, who had lost his starting job to freshman Tarik Black, entered Tuesday's game having scored only nine points this season. He was held scoreless in Sunday's 70-61 U of M victory over LSU.
Against UT Martin, Coleman had an assist, a block and a rebound shortly upon entering the game midway through the first half and added his first points on a dunk off an inbounds pass. Coleman made eight of his nine shots - mostly dunks- in 19 minutes.
''I've been really hard on myself,'' Coleman said. ''I just took my time and thought about how I was playing. It feels real good to go into the Thanksgiving break with this kind of game. It lets me know I'm still here.''
Coleman started the second half as Black injured his knee diving for a loose ball early in the game and striking a chair behind the UT Martin basket. Black retreated to the locker room to get stitches for the cut and didn't return to the bench until the second half.
''When I came back to the court I looked up at the scoreboard and it showed Will Coleman had 18 points,'' Black said. ''I wish I'd been out there to see it. I'm proud of him. He deserved it.''
Memphis (5-0) also got 20 points from freshman Will Barton.
Coleman started 18 games last season and averaged 7.4 points and 6.2 rebounds. His previous career high came last November when he scored 16 points in a win over Jackson State.
''I told him the other day he was the 11th man on this team,'' Tigers coach Josh Pastner said. ''I told him he had to get blocks, he had to be strong inside, he had to rebound the ball if he wanted to play. To his credit, he produced. But he's got to be like that every day.''
For the Tigers, Joe Jackson added 16 points, Angel Garcia scored 15 and Wesley Witherspoon had 14 as they contributed to a balanced attack. Rueben Clayton led the Skyhaws (2-3) with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Memphis shot 51 percent, outrebounded the Skyhawks, 44-31, got 60 points from its bench and had 29 assists on its 38 field goals.
''We could have probably had more (assists), but we missed a lot of open looks,'' Pastner said.
Getting 38 points from their bench, scoring 25 points off turnovers and shooting 61.1 percent, the Tigers built a 63-43 halftime lead. Three reserves -- Coleman, Garcia and Barton -- were in double figures at halftime, led by Garcia and Barton with 12 apiece.
Witherspoon opened with a driving lefthanded layup to spark an 11-2 run to open the game. Midway through the first half, the Tigers, who never trailed, had a 28-14 lead. They increased their advantage to 23 points (40-17) with eight minutes left in the half and led by 20 at the break despite the Skyhawks shooting 56.7 percent. Memphis built a 30-point lead late in the second half.