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VOL. 127 | NO. 32 | Thursday, February 16, 2012

Will Barton Leads Memphis Past Tulane 82-64

BRETT MARTEL | AP Sports Writer

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Memphis guard Will Barton noticed the excitement building in Tulane's cozy Fogelman Arena when the Green Wave took a second-half lead, and he decided it was time to make up for his slow start on the offensive end.

"To see us losing and me not performing, all I was telling myself in my head is, 'It's time to dominate and let's just get to the rim and take over the game,'" Barton recalled. "And I think I did that tonight."

Barton scored 16 of his 20 points in the second half, and Memphis won its fourth straight game, 82-64 over Tulane on Wednesday night. It was the Tigers' 20th straight win over Tulane.

Tarik Black added 18 points on 9 of 10 shooting and Chris Crawford scored 13 for the Tigers (19-7, 9-2 Conference USA), who trailed by four points early in the second half before dominating the final 15 minutes to win for the 13th time in their last 15 games.

"We fell behind and came back and we kind of just blew them out," Barton said. "We took the lead and never looked back, so I think that's the sign of a good team. It's always good to be tested as long as you come out with the win.

"We're a good team. We've got a lot of athletes, a lot of playmakers, a lot of scorers," Barton continued. "Once we come together and realize what we're doing wrong and make adjustments, we're going to be fine."

Ricky Tarrant had 20 points and Josh Davis 19 for Tulane (15-10, 3-8), which hurt itself with a season-high 20 turnovers that Memphis converted into 28 points. Tulane shot 46 percent, normally a solid figure but not good enough to keep pace with Memphis' 62 percent shooting (34 of 55). Memphis dominated inside, outscoring Tulane 58-28 in the paint.

"With 10 minutes to go, I still thought we could get it done," Tulane coach Ed Conroy said. "The outcome is a little bit of a bitter pill to swallow but I think we'll learn from this and I think we know we need to take better care of the basketball.

"I think the area that they are really special is when they get a turnover," Conroy said of Memphis. "They are so fast and they have so many guys who can convert. ... You just cannot commit those live ball turnovers."

Joe Jackson and Wesley Witherspoon each scored 10 for Memphis. Witherspoon also had four steals, while Crawford had five. Barton also had nine rebounds and seven assists.

Tulane led 45-41 on Jordan Callahan's 3 early in the second half. Callahan whipped his fist across the front of his body as he and the crowd roared in celebration, sensing an upset might be in the cards.

That's when Jackson's layup ignited a 16-1 Memphis run during which Tulane went more than five minutes without a field goal.

"The first 30 minutes of the game, they had better energy. They were playing better than we were," Memphis coach Josh Pastner said of Tulane. "The last 10-11 minutes we obviously picked it up. ... We picked up our energy level. We made some of our shots and they missed some. It was pretty simple."

Memphis also had switched its defense to a zone right around the time its decisive run began.

"Going to the zone helped them," Conroy said. "Our first two or three looks against the zone were really good and we didn't convert. After that, Will Barton got a couple steals and got them going a little bit, and then we tightened up."

Barton twice scored on fast-break layups after turnovers, once as he was fouled for a three-point play. Black added three baskets inside, the last capping the run and putting Memphis up 57-46.

Tulane didn't fold right away, scoring the next six points, highlighted by Tarrant's fourth 3. That pulled Tulane within five points, and the Wave kept its deficit in single digits until Barton's floater with a little less than 5 minutes to go sparked an 11-2 run that included his alley-oop dunk, which made it 75-59 and left little doubt about the result.

Tarrant had 15 of his points in the opening 20 minutes. His third 3 of the game, set up by a kick-out from Davis to the right corner, put Tulane in front 29-26.

Davis also had double-digit points in the first half, scoring 11 on an array of strong drives. He and Tarrant scored all but seven of Tulane's points in the first half, but that was good enough for the Wave to take a narrow 33-32 lead into halftime.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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