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February 12, 2012

Tigers burn Blazers 79-45

The University of Memphis Tigers (18-7, 8-2 in Conference USA) shot 11 first half three pointers to build a 47-21halftime lead en route to a 79-45 victory over the UAB Blazers. Memphis shot 66.7 percent from the field (16-of-24) and connected on 11-for-14 from behind the arc to stymie the Blazers.

The first half saw the Tigers dominate the boards with a 15-5 advantage, commit only five turnovers, have 12 assists on 16 made baskets and sophomore guard Chris Crawford went 5-of-7 from the field, including 4-of-5 from three point range, scoring 14 points.

"Whenever we get to shooting like that, we're going to be a hard team to beat," Crawford said. "We know it's not going to happen every night, but when it happens like it did tonight, I don't think we can't lose like that."

The second half was much of the same. The Tigers continued to build their lead over UAB. Though Memphis didn't score as many points in the second half, only 32, the lead still increased. The Tigers lead by as many as 36 at one point due to the shooting of senior forward Wesley Witherspoon and junior D.J. Stephens. Both players continued Memphis' hot streak from beyond the arc, with Stephens hitting two three pointers and Witherspoon with one.

"He (Stephens) shoots it well in practice," said Josh Pastner, head coach for the Tigers. "It's one of those things that if he's open then I don't mind him shooting it as long as he can stick it."

The Tigers were pretty much thorough on both ends of the floor. They only gave up one offensive rebound, were a plus -13 on the boards (33-20), committed nine turnovers in the game, held the Blazers to 34 percent shooting and kept star forward Cameron Moore in check with only four points and one rebound. But Pastner knows that his team is not done yet.

"We're not out of the woods yet," Pastner said. "We can still clean up some things offensively when it comes to running our plays. We still need to take better care of the ball, but it still was a nice victory."

Three Tigers scored in double figures in tonight's contest. Both Chris Crawford and sophomore guard Will Barton led all scorers with 16 each; Crawford added five steals and Barton grabbed nine rebounds. And sophomore guard Antonio Barton chipped in with 10.

"It feels good to get a win like this," Will Barton said. "We knew they came in here confident because they just came off a huge win and a winning streak, and then when we went down to Bartow Arena we barely escaped with a win. So for us to win like this, it just shows our maturity."


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