MEMPHIS — Falling behind by 13 early, the Tigers closed the first half on a 17-to-2 run and then held off SMU down the stretch to take over sole possession of second place in the American Athletic Conference, beating the Mustangs 76-72.
Alex Lomax came off the bench to lead five Tigers in double figures with 14. Moussa Cisse delivered another double double, ten points and ten rebounds to go along with four blocks. Landers Nolley hit 3 of the U of M’s ten three-pointers, helping the Tigers build a 52-43 lead with just over 13 minutes to go.
When SMU rallied to tie things at 52, D.J. Jeffries ripped off eight straight points as the Tigers regained the lead. Jeffries and Nolley both finishing with 12. Cisse and DeAndre Williams had 10 with Williams delivering what turned out to be the game winner, a three with just over two minutes to play.
“We new that they were high-powered. To come into this game and get down by 13 points and having to keep battling and battling and battling back and then to be able to pull this out, it was a win win for us,” said Tigers coach Penny Hardaway. “We weren’t hitting on all cylinders but we got the stops we needed to get and then we made the baskets that we needed to make.”
“We’re realizing this is not our team. This is the city’s team. It’s Memphis’ team,” said Tigers guard Alex Lomax. “Playing for the city is just going to make everybody play better and play harder when you’re doing it for the city and you’re not doing it for yourself.”
The Tigers win their third straight AAC game to improve to 8-5, 5-2 in the American.
Same two teams Thursday in Dallas.