7:00 PM ET, January 9, 2014
KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, Kentucky
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Memphis players knew it would require stamina, energy and resolve to close out a Louisville team that's tough to beat at home.
Not only did the No. 24 Tigers deliver in all phases Thursday night, they used balanced scoring to beat their longtime rivals.
Geron Johnson added 13 points, Chris Crawford 12 and Austin Nichols 10 as all five starters scored in double figures to help the Tigers end a four-game losing streak to the defending national champions. Memphis (11-3, 2-1 American Athletic Conference) shot 51 percent (28 of 55) and outrebounded the Cardinals 37-35 in a victory that almost slipped away in the second half.
Trailing 61-55 with 5:26 remaining, the Tigers closed with an 18-6 run led by Jackson, who scored 11 second-half points. His layup on goaltending by Montrezl Harrell put Memphis up 70-67 with 40 seconds left and he followed with a free throw before Goodwin added a dunk in the final second to seal a hard-fought win featuring eight ties and eight lead changes.
"This game was so intense," Crawford said. "Every basket was, like, breathtaking. It's the best game I've ever been in. It was so competitive."
Luke Hancock had a season-high 20 points to lead Louisville (13-3, 2-1).
Memphis improved to 35-53 against Louisville and earned an important win in the first of at least two AAC meetings this season against its longtime foe. The schools have previously squared off as league members in the Metro and Missouri Valley conferences as well as Conference USA. Both teams were in C-USA the last time Memphis beat Louisville, also on the road, in 2005.
What mattered most to Memphis coach Josh Pastner was that his players didn't blink under adversity as they did in last Saturday's loss to Cincinnati.
"This was a great win because of coming off how we played," Pastner said. "The media, the fans were really on us. ... The guys really hung together and made big plays. Players made shots."
Pastner's postgame radio interview was delayed as he jawed with several fans who called his players classless and taunted him about the program's Academic Progress Rate. The coach prolonged the debate by not leaving the floor, vehemently defending his team's graduation rate before finally discussing a satisfying win that took everything the Tigers had.
Memphis was more physical and more aggressive for most of the game but saved its best play for the stretch run to reclaim the lead for good. The Tigers made several big defensive stops to hold the Cardinals scoreless for the final 2:12 and seal a win against their longtime rivals.
The Cardinals missed their third chance to beat a ranked opponent. Louisville shot just 39 percent (25 of 64) and was outscored 42-34 inside.
"This is one of the more frustrating losses I've probably been a part of because we were like right there," said Louisville senior guard Russ Smith, who scored 19 points.
Harrell added 14 points for Louisville, which seemed out of sync after 23 days away from the KFC Yum! Center. The Cardinals were inconsistent for stretches because of bad passes, lost dribbles and inaccurate shooting that left them 25 of 64 from the field (39 percent).
Things would have been worse for the Cardinals without Hancock, who made five of their six baskets during one stretch, including both of his 3-pointers. His 6-of-9 shooting was Louisville's only bright spot during a 13-of-36 half (36 percent) in which it seemed out of sync on its home floor.
But even he struggled in the final minutes, missing a 3-pointer with 30 seconds left and committing a turnover with 5 seconds remaining. That led to Goodwin's game-sealing dunk, and the Tigers achieved a goal they had worked toward all week.
"We've been preaching about our principles (since the Cincinnati loss). Each and every player knows what we are trying to do and what we want to do on offense or defense," Nichols said. "We stuck with those principles pretty well tonight and came out with a win."
LOUISVILLE, KY - JANUARY 09: Luke Hancock #11 of the Louisville Cardinals shoots the ball during the game against...(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||28-55 (.509)||25-64 (.391)|
|3P Made-Attempted||4-11 (.364)||6-19 (.316)|
|FT Made-Attempted||13-21 (.619)||11-16 (.688)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||15 (0/0)||17 (0/0)|
Next 5 Games
Louisville has been a completely different team this season against ranked and unranked teams. Each of the Cardinals' 3 losses are against ranked teams. In those games, they're scoring 14 fewer points and allowing about 21 more points per game. They've lost the rebounding battle in each of their 3 games against ranked teams.[+]
Louisville This Season
Memphis outscored Louisville by eight points in the paint Thursday, in what would turn out to be a six-point Tigers win. All 21 of Memphis' made field goals in the paint came within eight feet of the basket.[+]
Shooting in the Paint
The last time Memphis won on the road against a team ranked in the top 12 was February 2005 against... Louisville. In fact, in the past 15 seasons, Memphis has 3 road wins against top-12 teams... All against Louisville.
Luke Hancock went 6-for-9 from the field in the first half; the rest of the Cardinals combined to shoot 7-for-27 in the first half. Hancock has 14 points at the break, two shy of his season high for a game.
Memphis' starters led the way Thursday in its win over 12th-ranked Louisville.[+]
Memphis vs Louisville Tonight
Memphis is 2-2 vs ranked teams this season, after going 0-12 in its first 4 seasons under Josh Pastner.[+]
Memphis vs Ranked Teams Under Josh Pastner
ESPN Stats & Information