Tigers make Tubby Smith a winner in his debut

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MEMPHIS, Tenn-K.J. Lawson scored 25 points and had eight rebounds, and Dedric Lawson had 19 points and 15 rebounds as Memphis beat Texas Rio Grande Valley 94-75 Monday night in Tubby Smith’s first game as the Tigers new head coach.

Mike Hoffman hit two jumpers and an early 3, and UT Rio Grande trailed just 27-21 with 10:30 left before the half.

Memphis (1-0) then scored 13-straight as part of an 18-3 run that put the Tigers up 21.

UT Rio Grande (0-2) got back in it with a 16-6 run to get within 51-40 just before halftime.

But out of the break, Chad Ryhoek’s dunk started a 20-4 Memphis spurt that ended with Jeremiah Martin’s dunk and Memphis led 71-46. The Vaqueros got to within 15 near the midway point of the second half, but Christian Kessee’s 3 ignited a 17-7 run for Memphis.

Nick Dixon came off the bench to lead UT Rio Grande with 28 points and eight rebounds.