Tigers return to national rankings

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Memphis, TN-For the first time in 11 weeks the University of Memphis is back in the national rankings. The Tigers are ranked 22nd in this week’s Associated Press poll and 25th in the coaches poll.
Also, Tigers guard Geron Johnson has been named the Conference USA Player of the Week for Feb. 5-10, the league office announce Monday.
Johnson is the second Tiger to earn the accolade this season, as Joe Jackson was selected the C-USA Player of the Week Jan. 7. Shaq Goodwin is a two-recipient of the league’s Freshman of the Week honor (Dec. 10, Jan. 14) this year.
Last week, Johnson helped lead Memphis to two C-USA road victories at SMU 60-52 and Southern Miss 89-76. The two wins gave the Tigers sole possession of first place in the league’s regular-season standing with a 9-0 mark.
The 6-foot-3, 197-pound guard averaged 22.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.5 steals in the two wins. Johnson also shot 58.3 percent from the field, 56.3 percent from the arc and 77.8 percent from the free throw line.
In the CBS Sports Network national telecast Feb. 9, Johnson netted a season-best 25 points and added eight rebounds, seven assists and four steals in the win over Southern Miss. The eight rebounds, seven assists and four steals tied season highs.
The Dayton, Ohio, native also made several key plays in the victory over the Golden Eagles. After Southern Miss cut the Memphis lead from 42-32 to 42-39, Johnson accounted for all five points (three-pointer, assist on Adonis Thomas basket) to close out the first half and give the Tigers a 47-39 halftime lead.
In the second half, Southern Miss sliced the Tigers’ advantage to single digits three times, and on each occasion, Johnson helped halt the Golden Eagles’ run. The first came after Southern Miss cut the Memphis lead to 56-53, and Johnson responded with two assists for a 60-55 Tigers lead. The next was when the Golden Eagles were within four at 65-61, and Johnson answered with five-straight points (trey, layup) to extend the lead to 70-61. The final one was when Southern Miss was within nine points at 76-67, and the Memphis junior got a steal and assisted on a Joe Jackson layup and followed with a three-pointer to push the Tigers’ lead to 81-67.
Johnson also hit 4-of-4 from the free throw line in the final 1:18 to help seal the win over the Golden Eagles.
In the win over SMU Feb. 6, Johnson netted a game-high 19 points, including a season-high five three-pointers. He scored 12 of his 19 points in the second half and hit two clutch three-pointers with under seven minutes remaining in the contest to keep the Tigers in the lead.
Johnson is ranked among Conference USA leaders in scoring (24th), assists (12th) and steals (3rd).