Memphis loses scoring battle on the road to Houston.
The No. 21/22 ranked Memphis Tigers have had their share of last minute heroics in their last two games against Rutgers and Temple. Luckily, they were able to find a way to win both games.
On Thursday night,the Tigers’ (21-7, 10-5 AAC) luck ran out on the road against the Houston Cougars (14-14, 6-9 AAC) as Memphis couldn’t find a solid rhythm on offense and with their frontcourt of Austin Nichols and Shaq Goodwin in foul trouble late in the game, Houston took advantage of it.
In front of a small crowd at the Hofheinz Pavilion Arena, Houston nailed the 77-68 upset against the favored Tigers.
In first half of the game, Nichols scored eight of Memphis first 11 points. He finished the game with 12 points, four rebounds, two blocks and one assist. Goodwin had an solid first half as well with 10 points.
As for the senior guards, they combined to score only seven points. Both Michael Dixon Jr. and Chris Crawford were held scoreless.
Unlike Memphis, Houston was able to get going on offense. Houston would gain complete control of the game when junior forward TaShawn Thomas made the driving layup to his team a 30-29 lead. Houston went into halftime up 36-33 after Daniel House converted on the four-point play with 40 seconds left.
Thomas led his team in scoring with nine points. Daniels added eight.
The night would get worse for Memphis in the second half. Houston continued to put points on the scoreboard as they went on a 8-0 run that started late in the first. They had their largest lead of the game with 18:57 left (40-33).
Memphis would go on a 7-2 run to push the Cougars lead down to two (42-40). With the senior guards for Memphis non-existent on the court, the Tigers had a hard time scoring points.
Crawford, Johnson, and Joe Jackson combined to score 15 points on 4-of-15 shooting (26.6 percent) from the field for the entire game.
With a solid first half by Nichols, he would only score two points in the second half. He picked up his fourth foul at the 11:44 mark and wouldn’t return to the game until a minute was left in regulation.
Dixon was the only senior guard to play at a high level. He finished as the game’s leading scorer with 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting (50 percent).
Houston had three of their key players to score in double figures: House (19), Thomas (16), and Stiggers (14). All three of these guys found comfort on offense as Memphis left them open at times on the court.
House had a stellar night at shooting the long ball by making 3-of-5 (60 percent) from beyond the arc. Stiggers shot 44.4 percent (4-of-9) from three.
Memphis had plenty of opportunities to pull off the win on the road, but didn’t capitalize down the stretch. With 3:54 left, the game was all tied at 63 apiece. Houston would finish the game on a 14-5 run. The run started with two free throws made by L.J. Rose to give his team a two-point lead. House would knock down the three ball on Houston’s next possession to push the Cougars’ lead up to five.
The Tigers would go scoreless until Dixon made a layup with 1:34 left. Jackson was quiet all night long, but knocked down two key free throws to put the score at 71-67.
With 24.1 seconds left in the game, Goodwin fouled out finishing with 16 points, 10 rebounds, and two blocks. Nichols would also foul out with 15.1 seconds left in the game.
As a team, the Tigers shot 46.7 percent (28-of-60) from the field.
The Tigers will have to put this loss behind them and get ready for the showdown against the No.7 ranked Louisville Cardinals. The game is slated for Saturday at 1 p.m. CST in Memphis, TN at the FedEx Forum. The game will be televised on CBS.