Saturday, November 19, 2016

Tigers 99, Savannah State 86

Posted By on Sat, Nov 19, 2016 at 2:31 PM

Sophomore guard Craig Randall came off the bench and scored 21 points — more than double his previous career high — to lead Memphis to its third victory in six days, over another bunch of Tigers from Savannah State. The Tigers withstood several Savannah State runs fueled by long-distance shooting — the visitors made 16 of 48 shots from long range — to improve to 3-0 on the young season.

Six Tigers scored in double figures and sophomore forward Dedric Lawson became the 14th Tiger to have 20 career double-doubles. In scoring 21 points, grabbing 14 rebounds, and dishing out seven assists, Lawson fell three dimes short of the program's fourth triple-double. K.J. Lawson scored 14 points and pulled down 10 rebounds to join his younger brother in the double-double category for a second straight game.
click to enlarge Craig Randall - LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Larry Kuzniewski
  • Craig Randall

As his rotation begins to coalesce, Memphis coach Tubby Smith hopes to see more outbursts from role players like Randall. "I'm pulling for each kid to have great days," said Smith after the game. "I couldn't be happier for Craig. I'm impressed with what he's doing. We needed him to do that. I expect players to make every shot, to be honest with you. He works very hard in practice. He and Jeremiah [Martin] have been in the Finch Center religiously. It's paying off for him."

Savannah State closed within four points at halftime on a buzzer-beating three-pointer by Kamil Williams. Casey Wells hit six of seven from three-point range before the break and finished the game with eight treys and a game-high 24 points.

The U of M started the second half with a 10-3 run and a Randall three-pointer gave Memphis a 67-52 lead with just under 14 minutes left to play. But Savannah State twice closed the gap within single digits, the last time at 86-77 with just under five minutes left on the clock. Memphis dominated its undersized opponent n the rebounding department, 55-33, and managed to hit free throws (18 for 25) three days after missing 10 of 12 against Milwaukee.

Jeremiah Martin continued his evolution into this team's point guard, handing out eight assists (with three turnovers) in 33 minutes. Center Chad Rykhoek scored 10 points in 16 minutes, Markel Crawford added 14, and Jimario Rivers scored 11 points off the bench. Martin emphasized the scoring by committee is a result of the culture being established for the season ahead. "We don't care about who gets the credit," said the sophomore from Mitchell High School. "We don't even look at the scorebook. If someone's ahead of you, give it up to him."

"Everybody eats," added Randall. "Regardless of who scores, everybody's gonna enjoy it. As long as we get the win, we're fine."

The Tigers will have Sunday off then one day to prepare for McNeese State (tipoff at 7 p.m. Tuesday at FedExForum). Smith acknowledged he doesn't even know the Cowboys' record, emphasizing that his teams practice the same way, with the same intent, no matter the opponent. "We've been logging a lot of minutes," he said. "Thirty-two for Dedric today, 33 for Jeremiah. The key is consistency, continuity. We've got to keep them improving, with film study when we need to. That's how we keep them focused."

As for the improved free-throw shooting, Smith chuckled and said he gave the free-throw coach a raise. He then patted himself on the back.

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