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December 7, 2013

Memphis Runs Past Northwestern State, 96-76

Tiger Nation was out in full force at the FedEx Forum on Saturday afternoon despite weather conditions that could have prevented a nice outing for Memphis Tigers Basketball. With 15,605 fans in attendance, the Tigers gave the crowd a big win over the Northwestern State Demons of the Southland Conference by the final score of 96-76.

Everyone in this game was getting touches and the Tigers didn't force shots from anywhere on the court during a majority of the game, as evidenced by 27 assists on 37 made baskets.

"We don't take any win for granted. They are hard to come by," head coach Josh Pastner said after the game. "I thought we had a good first half. That was a good basketball team we played. They are well-coached.

"Anytime you have a coach that has won over 570 games, that's a lot of wins."

In the opening minutes of the game, Memphis (6-1) took an early 10-3 lead. Michael Dixon scored the first bucket for Memphis and continued to shoot the ball well through halftime, ending the first 20 minutes with 12 points, two rebounds and two assists, while shooting 83.3 percent (5-of-6) from the field.

Sophomore forward Shaq Goodwin continued his recent rampage on the offensive end, going into halftime with 12 points, three rebounds, three blocks and one steal. He went 4-of-5 (80 percent) from the field and shot 66.7 percent (4-of-6) from the line.

Freshman forward Austin Nichols and senior guard Joe Jackson each had nine points as Memphis took a commanding 56-29 advantage into intermission.

Memphis was sharing the basketball extremely well finishing the half with a total of 17 assists on their way to 27 for the game.

As for the Demons (3-4), they didn't have an answer for the Tigers on the offensive end. All of their shots were contested and they couldn't seem to get into a rhythm to make the game competitive.

Northwestern State shot 29.7 percent (11-of-37) from the field and only made one three-pointer in the first half. No player for the Demons scored over 10 points in the first half as their leading scorer at halftime was senior forward DeQuan Hicks with seven points on 3-of-10 shooting (30 percent) from the field.

In the second half, Memphis struggled shooting the ball from the field. They went 16-of-33 (48.5 percent) from the field. The three's stopped falling for Memphis as well making 2-of-9 (22.2 percent) from long range.

For the game, Memphis shot 53.6 percent (37-of-69) from the field and 42.1 percent (8-of-21) from long range.

The Demons couldn't make up for their poor first half performance but shot well in the second half, going 17-of-33 (51.5 percent) from the field, but shot only 25 percent (2-of-8) from long range.

Northwestern State ended up with six players finish the game scoring in double figures. Sophomore guard Jalan West led the team with 15 points, Hicks added 13, senior forward Patrick Robinson pitched in 12 points, freshman guard Sabri Thompson had 11 points while Brison White and Zikiteran Woodley each scored 10 points.

Despite the second half sluggishness from Memphis, they still had complete control of the game. Goodwin led the team in scoring with 21 points along with six rebounds three blocks, two steals, and two assists in just 23 minutes of playing time.

"I just felt like I had good enough energy to be productive on both sides of the floor. I ran the floor well. I could do a lot better on free throws," Goodwin said. "I know I missed a couple of free throws but in the right place at the right time pretty much."

Two other players for Memphis scored in double figures. Jackson finished with 18 points, five assists, four rebounds, and one steal while shooting 6-of-11 (54.5 percent) from the field. Dixon added 14 points, shooting 66.7 percent (6-of-9) from the field.

Dixon gave his thoughts about his performance in the win over the Demons.

"It was a real open floor game, real up and down," Dixon said. "My teammates gave me shots that I take all the time at practice. So, it's a tribute to them and I think I played okay."

After scoring nine points in the first half, Nichols didn't score for the remainder of the game and points out what areas of his game he needs to improve on.

"I think its perimeter shooting, free throw shooting, getting stronger," Nichols said. "Moving my feet on defense and getting good footwork. As a team, we are unpolished work so we got some work to do. Continue to get better and we'll see what Monday has in store for us."

Senior Tiger guard Chris Crawford left the game late in the first half with what was later diagnosed as a sprained ankle and will be evaluated next week.

The Tigers will be back in action on Dec. 13 to take on the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (3-4). The game is slated for 7 p.m. at the FedEx Forum in downtown Memphis, TN.

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