VOL. 133 | NO. 46 | Monday, March 5, 2018
Tigers Finish Regular Season with Win over ECU
By Don Wade
The Memphis Tigers wrapped up the No. 5 seed in this week’s American Athletic Conference Tournament by thumping East Carolina 90-70 Sunday afternoon at FedExForum.
“We owed them,” junior Mike Parks Jr. said, referring to the University of Memphis losing at ECU earlier in the season.
Kareem Brewton Jr. led the Tigers with a career-best 22 points and handed out six assists. Parks Jr. scored 20 points and had a team-high eight rebounds as Memphis dominated the Pirates on the glass 43-24. Kyvon Davenport contributed 17 points, seven rebounds and three assists.
Memphis (19-12, 10-8) also had notable advantages on points in the paint, 54-42, and second-chance points: 14-2. The Tigers had 17 assists to just 10 turnovers.
“We played the right way,” coach Tubby Smith said. “The key was our defensive effort from the beginning.”
The victory was the Tigers’ fifth in the last six games and washed away some of the residue from a bad loss last Thursday at home to USF, which came in with a 1-15 conference record.
Now, the Tigers and No. 12 seed Bulls (10-21, 3-15) will meet in the first round of the AAC Tournament at 1 p.m. Central Time Thursday in Orlando, Fla. The game will be televised by ESPNU. The winner will advance to Friday’s quarterfinal, at 1 p.m. Central Time, vs. No. 4 seed Tulsa (19-11, 12-6). The Tigers and Tulsa split the season series.
On Sunday, Brewton connected on 10 of 15 shots and made many drives to the rim. He is starting in place of AAC leading scorer Jeremiah Martin, who was lost for the rest of the season when he broke his foot in the upset win over No. 23 Houston.
Brewton appears to be settling in as both scorer and distributor.
“He has a scorer’s mentality,” Smith said. “He really ran the team the right way, but the most important thing was his defense.”
ECU led 25-23 with eight minutes to go in the first half, but Memphis went on a 22-5 run and led 45-30 at the break. The Tigers never looked back.
For the game, Memphis shot 53.1 percent from the floor and ECU 47.5 percent. Shawn Williams led the Pirates with 17 points and Isaac Fleming finished with 16 points. ECU (10-19, 4-14) will open up the AAC Tournament as the No. 11 seed and play No. 6 seed UCF.
Sunday was Senior Day and Jimario Rivers and Alex Moffatt were honored along with senior student managers Sam McAdams, Brantley Green and J.D. McMillan.
Rivers, who scored seven points Sunday, also was ejected late in the second half after picking up his second technical foul.
Memphis finished its home season with a 14-5 record and Sunday’s announced attendance was 6,474. The Tigers beat Houston at FedExForum and also lost to nationally ranked teams in Cincinnati and Wichita State. The Bearcats are the No. 1 seed in the AAC Tournament and the Shockers secured the No. 2 seed.