Johnson leads Memphis past Southern Miss
HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) -- Geron Johnson scored 25 points, Chris Crawford added 16 and Memphis beat Southern Miss 89-76 to stay unbeaten in Conference USA.
Memphis (20-3, 9-0 C-USA) won its 14th straight game, turning a tight game into a comfortable win during the final minutes. Johnson made 8 of 11 shots from the field and had a terrific all-around game, adding eight rebounds, seven assists and four steals to lead a Memphis team that shot 55.9 percent from the field.
Crawford made four 3-pointers in the first half, helping Memphis break out to a 47-39 halftime lead it never relinquished.
The Tigers led just 58-55 with 13 minutes remaining, but hit shot after shot down the stretch to slowly put some separation between them and the Golden Eagles.
Southern Miss (18-6, 7-2) has lost two straight following a 10-game winning streak. Dwayne Davis led the Golden Eagles with 25 points on 9 of 14 shooting, including 3 of 5 from 3-point range. Daveon Boardingham added 14 points while Jonathan Mills scored seven points and grabbed 11 rebounds.
Southern Miss outrebounded Memphis 38-28, including 16-6 on the offensive end. But it wasn't enough to stop the Tigers.
Memphis ended Southern Miss' 23-game home winning streak, which was the fourth-longest in the nation.
Memphis and Southern Miss traded baskets in a physical, emotional first half that featured hot shooting by both teams, three technical fouls and spectacular alley-oops.
The Tigers jumped ahead midway through the half when Crawford hit four 3-pointers in quick succession. His last one gave them a 35-28 advantage. The Tigers shot 19 of 29 (65.5 percent) from the field in the first half, including 7 of 11 (63.6 percent) from 3-point range.
Southern Miss stayed in it because of Davis' 11 points and eight offensive rebounds that turned into 12 second-chance points.
The Golden Eagles tried to push back into the game during the second half, pulling within three points on three different occasions. But every time, Memphis was there to answer. Once it was a Shaq Goodwin layup, then it was a basket by Thomas and another time it was a Crawford jumper.
All of them were open looks, which was the theme for a porous Golden Eagles defense. Southern Miss couldn't mount another serious rally as Memphis pulled away in the final minutes.