Sunday, March 8, 2015

Cincinnati 77, Tigers 65

Posted By on Sun, Mar 8, 2015 at 1:19 PM

The Tigers were down 17-2 before most Memphians had reset their clocks for Daylight Savings Time. Taking the floor in Cincinnati at 10 a.m. according to their body clocks, the Tigers saved some face by closing within 10 points in the second half. But the Bearcats retained control throughout to earn the third seed in the upcoming American Athletic Conference tournament (opening Thursday in Hartford, Connecticut). The loss leaves Memphis with a final regular-season record of 18-13 (10-8 in AAC play).

click to enlarge shaq_kuzniewski.jpg

Octavius Ellis led Cincinnati with 19 points and 12 rebounds to help avenge the Bearcats' loss at FedExForum last January. Farad Cobb added 16 points and Jermaine Sanders 12 as Cincinnati hit six three pointers and shot 23 of 29 from the free-throw line. The win improves the Bearcats' record to 22-9 and 13-5 in the AAC.

Playing their second straight game without star forward Austin Nichols, the Tigers had to fire from long distance in trying to close the large scoring gap. They missed 13 of their 17 three-point attempts. Ironically, Memphis made more total field goals (26) than did Cincinnati (24). The Tigers were nine for 15 from the charity stripe.

Shaq Goodwin had a strong second half and scored a game-high 22 points. Senior Calvin Godfrey (starting in place of Nichols) was the only other Tiger in double figures with 14. Memphis coach Josh Pastner played essentially a seven-man rotation, with Nick King (six points) and Markel Crawford (seven points) the only reserves to get significant playing time.

The Tigers will next play Temple (22-9, 13-5) in the AAC quarterfinals on Friday, the game scheduled to tip off at 1 p.m. central time. The Owls beat Memphis on a buzzer-beater February 7th at FedExForum, the game in which Nichols initially injured his right ankle. Memphis will need to win three games in three days at the AAC tourney to earn a fifth-straight trip to the NCAA tournament.

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