No. 16 Memphis 68, Texas A&,M-Corpus Christi 63
The Memphis Tigers thought before the game that they had an opportunity to blow out Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
Instead, they played just well enough to escape with another victory.
''We had a good week of practice, and I thought we were going to come out and get like a 40-point win,'' guard Charles Carmouche said. ''But that didn't happen.''
Instead, Joe Jackson scored a career-high 23 points and the 16th-ranked Tigers pulled away just enough in the second half for a 68-63 win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Monday night.
Will Coleman added 15 points and nine rebounds for the Tigers (9-1), while Carmouche finished with 12 points.
The win marked the third time in Memphis' last four victories that the Tigers have been pushed by teams with lesser reputations. Arkansas State and Austin Peay took Memphis to overtime earlier this month. Memphis starts three freshmen and their two top reserves also are first-year players.
''We've been going through this for the last couple of games,'' Jackson said of the struggles. ''I knew we were going to win. That's how the game goes sometimes. It's up and down. We're young too. You have to take that into consideration.''
Hollis Hill also had a career-high with 16 points to lead Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (4-7). Justin Reynolds and Terence Jones had 11 apiece and Demond Watt finished with 10 points and eight rebounds.
''I was happy with our competitive energy,'' Islander coach Perry Clark said. ''If you're going to play a Top 20 team, you have to be able to compete. The game is going to be fast, and it's going to be played at a very intense pace.
''I thought that we were able to make decisions and play at a pace that was good.''
Memphis led 64-57 after a pair of free throws by Jackson with 1:32 left. It was the Tigers largest lead of the game.
The Islanders would pull to 64-61 on a pair of free throws by Hill with 36.5 seconds left, but could get no closer as Memphis won its second straight after its only loss of the season to Kansas, 81-68 in New York on Dec. 7.
''We never stopped the penetration, both offensively and defensively, in the last 5 minutes,'' Clark said. ''That is the thing that I showed our guys. When (Memphis) gets in trouble, they look to penetrate and pitch.''
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi would shoot 42 percent for the game, including 50 percent after the break, while Memphis managed 40 percent on the night. Both teams committed 13 turnovers.
''It seems like every time we take one step forward and two steps back,'' guard Antonio Barton said of the recent play. ''It's turnovers and forced shots. We let our mistakes on offense affect our defensive play because we hold our heads down once we turn the ball over instead of letting that play go and getting back on defense.''
Like his players, Memphis coach Josh Pastner said a lot of the issues are youth. He reminded everyone that many of his players were in high school at this time last year, and now they are on the national stage playing against upper classmen.
''We're 9-1,'' he said. ''The only better record you can have is 10-0.
''For a coach, I would like for us to win by 50 every time. It is so much healthier for my heart and for my stomach, I can tell you that right now. I can almost feel my arteries getting clogged every time (opponents) take a lead.''