No. 16 Memphis defeats Northwestern State 96-76
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Memphis Tigers made a definitive statement early to show they weren’t going to have a letdown after a big win in their last game.
Shaq Goodwin scored a career-high 21 points, Memphis shot 54 percent and the No. 16 Tigers defeated Northwestern State 96-76 on Saturday. It was a carryover from the Tigers avenging their only loss of the season by beating No. 9 Oklahoma State 73-68 last Sunday to win the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla.
“For the past week, we’ve been preaching carryover and not slacking off,” said Goodwin, who finished 8 of 11 from the field. “Everyone knows when you come off a big win, you can’t lay an egg.”
Joe Jackson scored 18 points with five assists, and Michael Dixon Jr. had 14 points, connecting on 6 of 9 from the field for Memphis (6-1).
Goodwin’s performance continued a new emphasis by the Tigers in getting their post players involved. Over the last five games, Memphis, which entered the season with a reputation for strong senior guards, has pushed the ball inside more to Goodwin and freshman forward Austin Nichols.
“It’s a tremendous plus to have multiple guys that you can just throw the ball in there and get out of their way,” Dixon said of the balanced offense.
Six Demon players ended up in double figures led by Jalan West with 15 points for Northwestern State (3-4), which lost for the fourth time in its last five. DeQuan Hicks scored 13 points and Patrick Robinson had 12 points as the Demons shot 40 percent from the field. That included only 3 of 18 shots from beyond the arc.
Sabri Thompson scored 11 points, while Brison White and Zikiteran Woodley both had 10 points.
Northwestern State coach Mike McConathy said he hoped for a letdown by Memphis after Tigers coach Josh Pastner’s first win over a Top 25 team — but was pretty sure he couldn’t rely on that. McConathy said it was important his team play their up-tempo pace despite concerns of being able to keep up with Memphis, adding the key is to use these games as a benefit for their play in the Southland Conference.
“We didn’t quit, and we very well could have laid down when it got to be 29 and 30 (point leads),” he said. “We continued to fight and do it. We have to figure out how to get something out of these games, and that’s what we did.”
Memphis never trailed and led by as many as 30 with just over 6 minutes left. At that point, Pastner substituted his starters.
As expected, the game was a fast-paced affair. The Demons entered as one of the highest-scoring teams in the country, averaging 89.7 points. But they also allow 90.8 points, near the bottom of the NCAA stats.
Memphis, which averages 84.8 points, displayed its offensive firepower in the first half. The Tigers connected on 58 percent of their shots before the break and led 56-29 at halftime.
The Demons struggled offensively in the first half, hitting slightly under 30 percent from the field and missing all but one of their 10 shots from 3-point range.
Memphis’ lead was only 21-16 with about 12 minutes left in the half. The Tigers outscored Northwestern State 35-13 before halftime, including a stretch of 12 straight points.
“What happened to us was we kept attacking and got nothing out of it,” McConathy said. “Then they were just coming. They shot the ball extremely well. We were in position defensively to close, but we never contested shots in that stretch where they went on that run.”
Northwestern State was able to cut into the lead slightly to open the second half. In the first 4 minutes, the Tigers were averaging a turnover a minute. The sloppy play by resulted in Memphis finishing with 17 turnovers, compared to 13 for the Demons.
Still, any push by the Demons, including shooting 52 percent in the half, was not enough to deter the Tigers.
“We did not come out the second half with as much focus defensively,” Pastner said, “but we did a good job limiting them in the second half, which was good.
“Overall we did a pretty good job defensively. I would like for us to have fewer turnovers. That was the big thing.”