Memphis, TN- The University of Memphis men’s basketball team used a scrappy defense and a solid offensive outing as the Tigers won their ninth-straight season opener with an 81-66 victory over North Florida on Monday night at FedExForum.
After trailing 20-17 nine minutes into the game, the Tigers used a 10-0 run over the next three minutes to take a 27-20 lead. At the 10-minute mark, Shaq Goodwin sparked the Tigers defense with a steal followed by an Antonio Barton three to put Memphis up 22-20. The Tigers never looked back as Barton recorded eight of the Tigers’ ten points during their run, knocking down two treys and a jumper to help Memphis distance itself from UNF.
The Tigers continued to control the game in the latter part of the first half by outhustling the Ospreys defensively and controlling the paint to post a 19-0 run over 4:19.
Down low, Tarik Black and Goodwin pushed around the Ospreys defense as the two combined for 16 points and 10 rebounds in the first period. Black increased the Memphisadvantage late in the first half by scoring eight of Memphis’ final 11 points of the half to help the Tigers go into the half up 47-25.
Memphis ended the half shooting 40 percent compared to North Florida’s 26 percent, while the Tigers forced 11 turnovers and drew 13 fouls in the first 20 minutes.
Memphis continued to build its lead in the second half, opening with a 10-4 run with six points from Black. Trailing 66-34, the Ospreys responded with an 8-0 run midway through the second half to try and get back in the game. However, the Tigers kept pounding away as D.J. Stephens came up with a huge block followed by a dunk on the other end to help Memphis hold a 74-48 lead with 8:17 to go.
With just under five minutes remaining, a three-pointer by Joe Jackson ended nearly a four-minute drought for the Tigers to increase their lead to 77-53. The Ospreys refused to go away late as they cut the Memphis lead to 16 after a three by Jerron Granberry. Another three by Granberry helped the Ospreys chip away their deficit, but a turnover by Andy Diaz in the final minute helped Memphis end any possible hope as the Tigers prevailed 81-66.
Black finished with a team-high 18 points while Jackson finished with 14 and Barton added 11. Black and Goodwin each tallied seven boards, helping Memphis out-rebound UNF, 47-31. Granberry led UNF with 17 points, including three buckets from behind the arc.
Memphis will host Samford on Saturday, Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. at the FedExForum before heading to The Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis, Nov. 22-24.