The rematch is on.
Thanks to a second-half comeback against LSU in today's semifinals of the Old Spice Classic, the Tigers will get the chance Sunday to avenge the ugly loss they suffered on November 19th at Oklahoma State. Freshman forward Austin Nichols played a starring role after Shaq Goodwin took a seat with two fouls early in the game. The Briarcrest alum scored 19 points, including five during a critical 7-0 Memphis run that all but erased a 57-49 LSU lead. When Chris Crawford converted a breakaway layup (off a rebound at the other end) with 9:40 to play, Memphis had a lead for the first time since midway through the first half.
Nichols later hit a jumper from just beyond the free-throw line — on a feed from Joe Jackson — to give the U of M a 70-66 lead and all the points they'd need against their foe from the SEC. Jackson hit all four free throws he took over the game's final minute to protect the margin.
LSU's Anthony Hickey (20 points) and Johnny O'Bryant (14 points, 9 rebounds) helped keep the Bayou Bengals in position for the upset, but 24 turnovers and poor long-distant shooting (LSU hit five of 19 from beyond the three point line) did them in. Memphis shot only 45.3 percent from the field and missed seven of their trey attempts.
Crawford added 17 points for Memphis (now 4-1) while Jackson scored 16 and handed out seven assists. The U of M received only nine points off their bench. Michael Dixon made only one of seven field-goal attempts.
Earlier today, the 5th-ranked Cowboys beat Butler to advance to Sunday's championship game (6:30 pm). In Oklahoma State's first meeting with Memphis, Marcus Smart poured in 39 points in a 21-point Cowboy win that really wasn't as close as the final score. Twelve days after a loss that shook the Bluff City, the Memphis Tigers — in the shadow of Disney World — will have the chance to rewrite the fairy tale.