MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The University of Memphis rode torrid first-half shooting, a game-high 24 points from Tyler Harris, and 21 from Kyvon Davenport in 25 minutes to defeat UAB, 94-76, Saturday at FedExForum.
Harris made four of 10 from beyond the arc, 10-of-11 free throws and dished out five assists. It was his fifth game this season scoring 20 or more points.
Davenport came off the bench to make his contributions, which included eight rebounds and two blocked shots. Senior guard Jeremiah Martin added 14 points and five assists. He had some key baskets down the stretch.
“I’m very, very proud of the team,” Tiger coach Penny Hardaway. “It was our first blowout win of the year, in my mind. It was a really good team. Their guards were really good.
“Overall, we had a total group effort. We had so many contributors. I’m very excited about the direction we’re headed. We’ve got work to do, but I’m still proud of this effort.”
The Tigers built a 19-point lead in the opening half as they shot 62.1 percent, including 8-of-12 from beyond the arc. They struggled to match that accuracy in the second half, missing six of their first seen 3-point attempts, but recovered in time to post a double-digit victory.
Memphis (5-4) finished with 18 assists and forced 17 turnovers. The Tigers shot 53.6 percent, a season high.
“I feel like we are seeing a lot of improvement every day,” said Harris, who is on pace to set a freshman record for three-pointers in a season.
Davenport, a starter last season and to being this season, said he has enjoyed his role coming off the bench. He started the first four games of this season.
“It doesn’t matter if I start or not,” he said. “To me, it’s all about winning. I feel like I’m helping them more off the bench.”
Despite leading by 10 at the half (and by as many as 19 in the opening half), the Tigers were unable to maintain a double-digit lead in the second half.
UAB gradually trimmed the deficit to as few as four points (63-59) after putting together a 9-0 run midway through the second half.
The Tigers regrouped behind Alex Lomax, Davenport, Harris and Martin. The foursome combined for all the points in a late 13-6 run that gave Memphis an 81-68 lead with 4:18 to go. A Martin 3-pointer from the deep left wing gave the Tigers an 85-70 lead with 2:47 left.
In the first half, the Tigers used 62 percent shooting – including going 8-of-12 from beyond the arc – to grab a 49-39 lead at the break. Harris had three treys and nine points at halftime.
Behind the torrid shooting, the Tigers built a 19-point advantage (41-22) with 6:34 to go in the first half before UAB began chipping away at the lead behind leading scorer Zack Bryant. Bryant, who missed the team’s previous game, had back-to-back treys and a driving layup in the final four minutes. His layup allowed the Blazers to closer the gap to seven points (44-37).
The Tigers took the first-half lead for good (13-10) on a Harris 3-pointer and used an 18-6 run to pull away. Memphis made 14 of its first 20 shots (70 percent).
Memphis resumes play next Saturday at FedExForum against nationally ranked Tennessee.
Tiger walk-on Evin Olds made his first appearance of the season with 57.7 seconds remaining. Olds dropped in two free throws with 20 seconds left for the first points of his two-year career.
Memphis shot 50 percent or better for the second-straight game. The Tigers shot 50.8 percent in Tuesday’s win over South Dakota State and 53.6 percent against UAB.
UAB placed five players in double figures, led by Lewis Sullivan’s 14. Zack Bryant, who missed the Blazers’ previous game, scored 13.
Memphis had 37 bench points in scoring their 94 points. It marked their second-highest scoring total of the season. The Tigers scored 109 in a double-overtime win over Yale.
Jeremiah Martin’s 14 points moved him to 1,044 in his career, or 45th on the all-time list behind Billy Smith (1,040).