The Tigers survived the Isaiah Sykes Show in Orlando tonight to earn their fourth straight win and improve to 6-2 in American Athletic Conference play (4-0 on the road). Key to the win were four three-pointers from senior guard Chris Crawford (as a team, Memphis hit seven of 12 from long range). Crawford's last trey of the game (with just under six minutes to play) keyed a 10-3 Tiger run to the final buzzer.
Sykes, the Knights' senior guard and all-conference candidate, exceeded his season averages of 15.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 3.5 assists in the first half (16, 7, 4). He was limited to merely 8, 5, and 1 in the second half.
UCF took the lead, 33-32, on a Steven Haney three-pointer with just over three minutes to play in the first half. Despite shooting 62 percent over the game's first 20 minutes, the Tigers found themselves tied at the break, 39-39. Sophomore forward Shaq Goodwin went to the bench after picking up his second foul with 11:20 to play in the first, opening much of the lane for Sykes's frequent drives to the rim. Goodwin was held under 10 points (6) for the first time in seven games.
Joe Jackson led Memphis with 17 points and, with the victory, can sleep easier after a breakaway dunk-attempt slammed off the heel of the rim with the Tigers leading 51-46 midway through the second half. Jackson passed Kelly Wise for 10th place on the Memphis all-time scoring chart. With 1,493 career points, Jackson's next mark is Chris Douglas-Roberts (1,545).
All four senior guards for Memphis reached double figures, Michael Dixon adding 12 (before leaving the game with an injury at the 8:24 mark), and Geron Johnson 10.
Now 16-4, the 22nd-ranked Tigers will travel to Dallas and face SMU Saturday afternoon. The Mustangs were upset by USF Tuesday night, the same team the U of M beat by 22 points last Sunday.