MEMPHIS, Tenn. — No. 20 Memphis defeated No. 18 SMU 67-58 Saturday at FedExForum in the American Athletic Conference finale for both teams.
Memphis (23-8, 12-6 AAC) used a 20-5 run to go from trailing by a point to taking a 58-44 lead with nine minutes to play. Tigers senior guard Chris Crawford (nine points) made three consecutive 3-pointers during the run.
SMU (23-8, 12-6) cut the lead to six, at 64-58, with 1:43 remaining on a short jumper in the lane from forward Markus Kennedy (13 points). But Memphis senior guard Joe Jackson (game-high 18 points) answered with a driving layup in traffic and a made free throw at 1:30 for a three-point play and a 67-58 lead, ending SMU’s last threat.
The Tigers outshot SMU 46.4 percent to 40 percent and outrebounded the Mustangs 41-35.
The final seeding for the AAC Tournament, which begins Wednesday at FedExForum, will not be known until the completion of other conference games but it is possible Memphis and SMU could meet in No. 5 vs. No. 5 game in Thursday’s quarterfinals.
Memphis freshman forward Austin Nichols finished with 14 points, nine rebounds and three blocks. Guard Michael Dixon had nine points off the bench and forward Nick King contributed seven points and seven rebounds.
Guard Nic Moore paced the Mustangs with 16 points, seven assists and two steals. Guard Nick Russell finished with 13 points.
SMU led 30-26 at halftime and held the Tigers to 34.5 percent shooting. Memphis missed all six 3-pointers it attempted and also struggled at the free-throw line, going six for 13 (46.2 percent).
The Mustangs only shot 36.7 percent in the first half but knocked down four of nine 3-pointers (44.4 percent). Moore led all scorers with 10 first-half points and also had four assists.
The play was often sloppy in the first 20 minutes as the teams combined for 18 turnovers (10 by Memphis, eight by SMU).
NOTES: Saturday was Senior Day at Memphis with five scholarship players being honored: G Joe Jackson and G Chris Crawford, who played four years for the Tigers; Guard Geron Johnson, who played two years; G Michael Dixon, who played one year after transferring from Missouri; and F David Pellom, who played one year and came from George Washington University. … Going into Saturday’s game Jackson (1,637) and Crawford (1,192) had combined for 2,829 career points and 1,011 career assists (Jackson 554 and Crawford 457). … As of March 3, the Mustangs owned the best field-goal percentage in the American Athletic Conference (49.2). That put them ninth in the nation. … They also were first in field-goal percentage defense in the league (36.9) and second in the country.
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