No. 20 Memphis tops Tulane 81-68 at C-USA tourney

  • Article by: JEFF LATZKE
  • Associated Press
  • March 14, 2013 - 8:32 PM

TULSA, Okla. - Chris Crawford set career-highs with 24 points and six 3-pointers, Adonis Thomas scored 17 points and No. 20 Memphis beat Tulane 81-68 Thursday night in the quarterfinals of the Conference USA tournament.

The top-seeded Tigers (28-4) took control by scoring the final 14 points of the first half, with Crawford hitting a pair of 3-pointers and then soaring for a right-handed dunk on a fast break to finish it off and make it 44-27. D.J. Stephens also had a two-handed slam and a putback during the big burst.

Josh Davis had 21 points and 15 rebounds to lead eighth-seeded Tulane (19-14), which could never get closer than 10 in the second half.

Memphis, trying to win its seventh Conference USA tournament in eight years, won its 22nd straight game in the series between the two teams.

Tulane strung together eight straight points to close the deficit to 48-38 after Kendall Timmons' free throw with 15:47 left, but Memphis answered right away with its own 10-2 burst. Crawford hit another 3-pointer and then two free throws after getting fouled on another 3-point shot, and Geron Johnson's 3 restored the lead to 58-40.

Crawford, chosen the league's top reserve in voting by the coaches, was stuck on 22 points — one shy of his previous career best — until Johnson passed up an open layup on a fast break in the final minute to instead set up a two-handed slam by Crawford.

Joe Jackson added 15 points for Memphis. The Tigers have never lost a Conference USA tournament game as the top seed, sweeping their way to the title each year from 2006 to 2009 and then again last year. Memphis also won the 2011 tournament as the No. 4 seed.

The win prevented a repeat of 2010, the last time the conference tournament was played in Tulsa. That year, the second-seeded Tigers were upset in the first round by eventual champion Houston.

Jordan Callahan chipped in 18 points for Tulane and Kendall Timmons scored 10.

The Green Wave were able to sustain Memphis' opening barrage of 3-pointers and dunks and keep it close for about 14 minutes before the well ran dry against the Tigers' defense. Davis' three-point play off a drive to the basket got Tulane within 28-25 with 7:06 left in the first half, but the Green Wave didn't make another basket the rest of the half.

Louis Dabney hit two free throws with 5:59 to go before halftime, and Memphis didn't allow another point before the break. Stephens blocked Ricky Tarrant's shot in the lane to set the tone, and the Tigers forced two shot-clock violations in the final 5 minutes of the half.

Tulane had 13 turnovers — already over its average of 12.2 per game — by halftime and finished with 15.

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