MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Memphis Tigers found some benefit from playing Division II LeMoyne-Owen in midseason: a win to end their two-game home skid.
Nick King scored 18 points and No. 17 Memphis defeated the Magicians 101-78 on Saturday, a needed relief for the Tigers (13-4) who had dropped consecutive home games to Cincinnati and Connecticut before the victory.Meanwhile, LeMoyne-Owen (4-10), a member of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, lost its third straight and fifth in the last six."It is just a game to bounce back," King said. "(The UConn) loss was a tough loss for the whole team. We just needed this to get our minds back on track."At the UConn game, it was a mental thing. This game, we were more locked in because we were in desperation mode. We knew we had to win the game."Austin Nichols and Geron Johnson finished with 12 points each for Memphis, Nichols hitting all six of his shots. Johnson also had nine rebounds and seven assists. Kuran Iverson scored 11 points, and Shaq Goodwin added 10 for Memphis.Demba Konate led the Magicians with 17 points, while Daequan Mitchell-Fields finished with 16 points. Marcel Hawkins had 11 and Jerry Hampton scored 10.Memphis coach Josh Pastner promised to play LeMoyne-Owen to benefit the small school located in South Memphis and had to schedule the game in January to keep his word."I was proud of the way we bounced back after the loss to Connecticut," Pastner said.LeMoyne-Owen coach William Anderson also recognized the benefit of the game to the Tigers."I think Memphis needed an easy win coming off that hard game against Connecticut," Anderson said. "They were able to get some guys some playing time that haven't got some playing time, so I think it was a win-win for both institutions."Memphis started a bit lackadaisical, trying to muster any enthusiasm for the game after the start of its first season in the American Athletic Conference.LeMoyne-Owen was within 15-14 with 13 minutes left in the first half when Memphis started taking control, eventually carrying a 52-33 lead into halftime."They played us pretty tough in the first half," Nichols said.The Tigers managed to shoot 60 percent for the half. King, a reserve, already had 13 points, including shooting 4 of 5 from the field.Pastner substituted freely in the half, at times making a complete, five-player change. It was a substitution pattern he would follow through much of the game.No Magicians player was in double figures at the half, but reserve Naffe Toure already had fouled out, playing 8 minutes and missing his only shot. Starter Victor Shell already was saddled with four fouls in the first half and fouled out in the second.Memphis continued to build the lead after the break as the Tigers converted better than 50 percent of its shots. The Tigers would end the game shooting 59 percent, compared to 40 percent for the Magicians.Pastner also noted that the Tigers had 29 assists on 38 made field goals.While the Magicians didn't put up much resistance, Pastner said every win is important, particularly as they try to work their way through conference play."It was a good win, and it counts on our official record," he said.