The Memphis Tigers just keep rolling along. Saturday night in Huntington, WV, Memphis put a 15-game winning streak on the line against the homestanding Marshall Thundering Herd. Meanwhile, Marshall was hoping to avenge a one-point loss in Memphis with a victory in front of their own fans.
The Herd jumped out to a quick 10-3 lead, but Memphis (22-3, 11-0) outscored Marshall (11-15, 4-7), 40-16, over the rest of the first half on the way to a 71-59 victory in front of a crowd of 6,116.
Marshall powered their early run with hot shooting, making 4 of their first 5 shots, including a pair of three-pointers. But as the Tiger defense clamped down tighter, the Herd's shooting cooled and the Memphis fast break kicked into high gear.
At the forefront of the Tiger resurgence was none other than start sophomore Adonis Thomas. The former McDonald's All-American set a new career high with 23 points and managed his first double-double as a Tiger with 10 rebounds. He had 15 points and 7 rebounds in the first half alone and scored 13 of the Tigers' first 22 points, including a pair of three-pointers.
Memphis couldn't pull away, though, until a 9-0 run took them to a 10-point lead, 25-15. The Tigers kept pouring it on, scoring 36 points in the paint, 10 in transition and 19 off the bench on the way to an overwhelming 43-26 halftime advantage.
For Tiger fans expecting the game to become a first-rate rout, there was disappointment in the second half, as the athletic Herd dug in their heels and made a game of it. Led by point guard DeAndre Kane (16 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists) and forward Dennis Tinnon (15 points and 13 rebounds), Marshall crept as close as 5 (46-41) after scoring the first 8 points of the second half and holding Memphis scoreless for the first 4:41 of the second stanza.
But Geron Johnson nailed a huge three-pointer and Thomas got a tip-in to push the lead back to double-digits, and Johnson , who only scored three points in the first half, scored 8 critical points in the second half to power the Tigers to victory.
Thomas led three (3) Tigers in double-figures with his 23 points, with Joe Jackson adding 12 and Johnson 11. Ferrakohn Hall came off the bench to provide a huge spark with 8 points and 4 boards. Johnson and reserve guard Chris Crawford led the way with 5 assists apiece.
Memphis will be back in action Wednesday night at home against the Houston Cougars (15-9, 4-7). Tip-off is set for 8:00 p.m. CDT at the FedEx Forum in downtown Memphis.