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Monday, November 24, 2014

Tigers 77, Prairie View A&M 49

Posted By on Mon, Nov 24, 2014 at 10:15 PM

The Tigers won their 12th straight home opener tonight, easily handling Prairie View A&M in front of a relatively sparse FedExForum crowd. (If there were 14,412 fans in attendance, as announced, many of them spent the entire game at concession stands.) The Panthers scored the first field goal of the game before falling behind 15-2. With less than 12 minutes played, Memphis had a 26-11 lead and room to experiment with a rotation still to be determined in the young season.

Shaq Goodwin

With a 22-6 edge on the boards, the Tigers led 38-23 at halftime, shooting proficiently from the field (60 percent) and the free-throw line (85 percent). By game's end, those percentages had dropped to 50 and 75, respectively, but the U of M (1-1) had secured its first win of the season and sent the Panthers to their fifth loss in five games.

Shaq Goodwin led the Tigers with 16 points in 23 minutes, hitting all six of his shots from the field. Junior forward Trahson Burrell contributed 9 points and 9 rebounds. They were two of nine Tigers to play between 16 and 28 minutes as coach Josh Pastner explores the strengths (and discovers the frailties) of a team still getting to know one another.

Freshman Markel Crawford and sophomore Avery Woodson started in the backcourt and each drained a pair of three-pointers, Crawford finishing with 9 points in 20 minutes and Woodson with 8 in 18. After a horrid 4-assist, 24-turnover showing in their opener last week against Wichita State, the Tigers dished out 15 assists tonight against 16 turnovers.

There was a common word mentioned by players after the game, an ingredient that can only be found through winning basketball games. "It feels good to finally get a win with this new team," said Goodwin. "To see [Crawford and Woodson] have the confidence to keep shooting was amazing. That means a lot to this team. Hopefully it will bring up their confidence, they'll keep shooting, and we'll be fine."

Added Crawford, "Confidence has probably been the biggest issue, only because we've been thinking too much. We have to play through the post, and seeing our big men do the job boosts our confidence." Sophomore forward Austin Nichols had 7 points and 3 blocks in 16 minutes.

"It's nerves," said Woodson, when asked about the confidence factor. "We're trying to form a team. We have individual talent, but we need to get more games under our belt and get a good feel for each other. We all have to be productive for us to be a great team. For some of us, it's our first time playing at this level. It's a matter of being comfortable out there."

With a confidence-boosting first win under their belt, the Tigers will head to Las Vegas, where they'll face Baylor Thanksgiving night (tip-off at 11 p.m.) in the first of two games in 24 hours.

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