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VOL. 131 | NO. 47 | Monday, March 7, 2016

Sports Notebook: Tigers End With Win, Suns Beat Grizzlies

By Don Wade

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A laugher. The University of Memphis basketball team hasn’t had many of those this season, but they got one to end the American Athletic Conference schedule with an 83-53 victory at East Carolina.

(Daily News File/Andrew J. Breig)

It was just the Tigers’ second road victory this season and extracted a measure of revenge for ECU’s 84-83 win over Memphis at FedExForum back in January.

The Tigers now carry a 17-14 and 8-10 AAC mark in the postseason tournament, which starts Thursday in Orlando. Memphis is the No. 6 seed and will face No. 3 seed Tulsa (20-10, 12-6) in a quarterfinal game Friday at 8 p.m. Memphis time.

Memphis beat Tulsa 92-82 on the Tigers’ Senior Day at FedExForum. With SMU ineligible for postseason play, the AAC tourney lacks a clear favorite. Temple (20-10, 14-4) won the regular season championship and is the No. 1 seed. The Tigers split with Temple, winning at home by two points.

Seventh-year coach Josh Pastner reminded media after the Tigers’ win over ECU on Sunday, March 6, that the Tigers have clinched having a winning record and that Pastner’s record of never having lost three games in a row is assured to make it through season’s end.

Far less certain is if or where the Tigers go after the AAC Tournament. They would need to win three games in three days to win the title and automatic NCAA bid. If they won two games, and then lost in the championship game they would finish 19-15 and they might be good enough for the consolation prize that is an NIT bid.

Memphis led the AAC in blocked shots (178) and freshman Dedric Lawson was first in rebounding average at 9.2.

Grizzlies, like Warriors, take a bad loss
The Phoenix Suns have won three of their last 18 games. After beating the Grizzlies 109-100 on Sunday, March 6, at FedExForum, Memphis owns two of those dreadful defeats. The Suns are 17-46 on the season.

Veteran Chris Andersen, who has been starting at center for the Grizzlies because of the injuries to Marc Gasol and Brandan Wright, played less than nine minutes Sunday before leaving with a shoulder injury.

That left the Grizzlies smaller than ever, and the Suns won rebounds 47-38.

“We’ve been playing good,” forward Zach Randolph said, “but tonight was one of those nights.”

Even with the loss, the Grizzlies are 37-25. Tony Allen missed his eighth straight game with a sore knee, but coach Dave Joerger said Allen may play Monday, March 7, in Cleveland.

But here’s something to make you feel better about losing to the Suns two straight times: The Los Angeles Lakers beat Golden State 112-95 Sunday at Staples Center.

It left the Warriors 55-6 on the year as the Lakers “improved” to 13-51.

The normally deadly accurate Warriors went 4-for-30 from 3-point range and Steph Curry was 1-for-10.

“I would say 24 of them were good shots that just missed,” Curry said. “It happens.”

Yadier Molina not ruled out for opening day
There is still a lot of spring training left. But is there enough time for St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina to be ready for opening day?

Molina has not yet started taking serious swings with the bat as he mends from a surgically repaired left thumb. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny told reporters Sunday that he anticipated getting Molina to play some defense in Grapefruit League games within a week.

But it’s swinging the bat that might delay Molina’s regular season debut.

Meanwhile, ace starting pitcher Adam Wainwright was scheduled to make his first spring training start on Monday, March 7. Wainwright missed most of last season after suffering an Achilles injury in late April.

Also, right-hander Carlos Martinez is slated to make his first start of the spring this week. Martinez is coming back from a shoulder strain.

The Cardinals open the regular season on April 3 in Pittsburgh. The home opener at Busch Stadium is at 3:15 p.m. Monday, April 11, vs. the Milwaukee Brewers.

The Cardinals and Memphis Redbirds are not meeting in an exhibition game this season.

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