Tigers use threes to drain Rattlers in non-conference victory

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 16: Jeremiah Martin #3 of the Memphis Tigers looks on in the second half against the Louisville Cardinals during their Gotham Classic game at Madison Square Garden on December 16, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Jeremiah Martin matched his season-high with 22 points, and Tyler Harris added 16 to lead the University of Memphis to its third-straight win and fifth in six games in a 96-65 decision Saturday over Florida A&M at FedExForum.

Martin, a senior guard and preseason American Athletic Conference first-team pick, also contributed eight assists and six steals — both team highs — in the UofM’s final non-league game.

The Tigers (8-5) open conference play Thursday by playing host to Wichita State.

In the lopsided win over the Rattlers (3-12), the Tigers also continued a recent torrid shooting streak. Memphis shot 58.9 percent a week after shooting 60 percent in a blowout of Tennessee State. The UofM also matched a season-high of 57 points in a half, scoring those in the second half and making 9-of-13 from beyond the arc.

In addition to Martin and Harris, three other Tigers finished in double figures. Raynere Thornton and Isaiah Maurice had 12 points apiece and Antwann Jones scored 11. Thornton and Maurice tied for the team lead with seven rebounds each.

“We got off to a rocky start (but) we regrouped at halftime and played a spectacular second half,” said Tigers coach Penny Hardaway. “Hopefully, we can learn from this and move on to the next game.”

Hardaway was disappointed his team failed to grab a single rebound before the first media timeout, a statistic that contributed to the team falling behind by four points in the opening minutes. The Tigers led by nine at the half, but had managed only nine rebounds

In the second half, the Tigers wasted little time establishing their dominance. They pulled away to start the half behind a 13-3 run. Martin had a three-point play during the run and Thornton added seven of his points, including a 3-pointer and a dunk.

Martin then single-handedly helped push the UofM lead to 30-plus points. During a 22-4 run midway through the half, Martin had 11 points and two assists. He also had three of his four 3-pointers during the stretch, the last of which gave the Tigers a 76-44 advantage. Memphis eventually extended its lead to 38 points in the closing minutes.

“Coach just told me I needed to take over the game on both ends,” said Martin, who played a team-high 27 minutes.

After halftime, the Tigers out-rebounded the Rattlers, 20-9, and didn’t allow FAMU to grab an offensive board.

“They weren’t thinking about basketball in the first half,” Hardaway said. “In the second half, we got locked in on the keys of what we needed to work on.”

In the first half, the Tigers shot 59.1 percent, but couldn’t pull away from the Rattlers. Memphis was slowed by eight first-half turnovers and by being outrebounded, 3-9. FAMU also stayed close by shooting 48 percent in the half.

After falling behind 6-2 in the opening minutes, the Tigers slowly regained the lead. When Jones nailed a 3-pointer from the right corner with 13:21 to go, it gave the UofM a 13-10 advantage. Memphis never trailed again, although FAMU tied the game at 26-all following back-to-back 3-pointers from Kamron Reaves.

The Tigers closed the half on a 7-2 run to take a 39-30 lead into the half. Harris had 11 points at the half to lead the UofM

NOTABLES
Kareem Brewton made his first start of the season in place of Antwann Jones. Brewton finished with five steals, to tie a career high.
The Tigers forced the Rattlers into 23 turnovers, three shy of the season high the team forced against Tennessee Tech in the season-opening game.
Memphis made a season-best 13 3-pointers. Kyvon Davenport’s trey from the left wing with 7:39 to go in the second half gave the UofM 12, or one more than they made against Charleston and UAB.
Tyler Harris was 4-for-4 from the free throw line to continue a streak. He has made 21 straight free throws, dating to the second half of the UAB game.
Raynere Thornton’s 12 points represented a season-high for the senior forward.
Memphis shot 52 percent (13-of-25) from 3-point range, a season-high.

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