The Memphis Tigers, coming off a three-game homestand, traveled to Greenville, NC for their second conference battle of the season with the East Carolina Pirates. After struggling to a slim one-point halftime advantage, Memphis (17-3, 6-0) managed to subdue the Pirates (12-8, 3-4), 75-68, before a crowd of 6,246 at Minges Coliseum.
It was the Tigers' 11th win in a row, a career-best for head coach Josh Pastner.
Each team suffered through a slow start offensively, but unfortunately for the Tigers, they were even more frigid than the home team. Memphis didn't take their first lead (16-15) until 6:56 remained in the first half on a Joe Jackson three-point basket. East Carolina took the lead right back just 16 seconds later when Ty Armstrong hammered home a dunk for a 17-16 edge.
Neither team led by more than three (3) for the rest of the half and Memphis wheezed to locker room with a 28-27 advantage. Both teams struggled to convert field goals, as the Tigers shot 11-of-34 from the floor (32.4 percent) while the Bucs were only marginally better (12-of-34, 35.3 percent).
Each squad heated up after intermission, with Memphis shooting a blistering 58.3 percent (14-24) to pull away from the pesky Pirates.
Junior point guard Joe Jackson led the way for the Tigers with a career-high 26 points, including 18 in the second half. He also dished a team-high 6 assists in 37 minutes of action. Geron Johnson added 13 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists, Chris Crawford chipped in 11 points, 9 boards and 5 assists and Shaq Goodwin snared a game-high 10 rebounds.
Jackson continued to build on the strongest year of his Tiger career with his fourth time eclipsing 20 points this season, notching his 16th consecutive time in double figures, while leading Memphis in scoring for the 7th time. He also paced the Tigers in assists for the sixth time this year. He also eclipsed the 1,000 point mark for his career with 1,018 to rank #48 in Tiger history.
Memphis returns to action Saturday night at home with a tilt against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. Tip-off is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. at the FedEx Forum.