EditorsNote: Changed six technicals to four in 5th graf
Hours after it found out that 7-foot-1 freshman James Wiseman would be ineligible until mid-January, No. 16 Memphis struggled for most of the game’s 40 minutes Wednesday night before finally pulling away from Little Rock for a 68-58 nonconference win in Memphis.
Precious Achiuwa paced the Tigers with a 16-point, 12-rebound double-double as Memphis survived 38.7 percent field-goal shooting, including a 5-for-21 performance from 3-point range. D.J. Jeffries came off the bench to add 15 points before fouling out with 4:15 left in the game.
Four players scored in double figures for the Trojans (3-2), led by Markquis Nowell with 16 points. Nowell also finished with an unusual double-double, committing 10 of Little Rock’s 26 turnovers. Ruot Monyyong and Ben Coupet each added 12 points, and Kamani Johnson had 10 along with 11 rebounds.
Little Rock drew within 55-53 when Nowell hit a 3-pointer from the right wing with 5:37 left in the game. But Memphis finally gained traction with a 9-1 run that Alex Lomax capped with 2:22 remaining, sinking two foul shots for a 64-54 advantage.
The Tigers tallied 26 fast-break points in a sloppy, tempestuous game. The teams combined for 47 fouls, 47 free-throw attempts and four technicals.
Little Rock landed the first blow, scoring the game’s first nine points as Coupet canned a 3-pointer and a layup. It forced Memphis coach Penny Hardaway into calling a timeout before his team had dented the scoreboard.
It took the Tigers nearly 5 1/2 minutes to score, Jeffries dunking off a Damion Baugh feed. Memphis spent the next 10 minutes reeling in the Trojans, finally grabbing its first lead with 4:32 left in the half when Jeffries jammed in transition for a 20-19 edge.
It was Jeffries who enabled the Tigers to close the half on a high note, grabbing Tyler Harris’ missed layup and sticking it home with two seconds left. That finished off a 7-2 spurt that sent them into the locker room with a 28-23 advantage.
It was Memphis’ second game without Wiseman, who was suspended for 11 games Wednesday by the NCAA. He can return Jan. 12 for a game with South Florida.
— Field Level Media