It was a regular day at the office for the University of Memphis Tigers basketball team. Fresh off their holiday break, the Tigers (7-5) ambushed a decent Robert Morris team (10-4) 64-47 in front of an announced crowd of 16,486. The Colonials shot 16-for-69 (23.2 percent) for the game, including 3-of-18 from three and was blocked 13 times. But what was more telling was the all-around play from the team as a whole.
"I thought my guys gave good effort, valued each possession and play hard throughout the game," head coach Josh Pastner said. I thought the guys had carry over from practices. And people who say that Robert Morris isn't a good team just don't know college basketball - they're not basketball experts."
The Tigers led the Colonials 42-18 at half, though the first six minutes of the contest were a bit sloppy with Memphis turning the ball over on three of their first possessions. But the Tigers picked it up, led by sophomore Will Barton's three three-pointers and 15 first half points.
The second half picked up where the first half left off. The Tigers opened the half on a 12-2 run, including keeping the Colonials without a field goal. Memphis also held RMU guard Velton Jones to just seven points, his lowest total in the last 20 games that he did not reach double figures. Will Barton finished the game with another double-double, grabbing 13 boards to go along with his game high 27 points - the sixth double-double of the season.
"He's (Barton) our hardest worker, there's no doubt about that," Pastner said. "His whole game is efficient. He's playing like an all-american and that's due to his work ethic and maturity."
The Tigers' lineup was a bit different than usual. Sophomore guard Antonio Barton and junior transfer Ferrakohn Hall started in place of sophomores Joe Jackson and Chris Crawford. Pastner says this was not to discipline or get on guys, rather than to just get a better start or jump to the beginning of games.
"I thought the starting five was really good," Pastner said. "I just felt that this lineup would give us a better start because the last few games we haven't started well. Nothing personal against any one person, I just felt that after the last game this would get us a good start."
The Tigers don't have much time to celebrate this victory as they will play Charlotte on Saturday, New Year's Eve, at 8 p.m.