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Tigers’ win blunts troubling pattern

Tigers-600Memphis played (insert school name).

They ran out to a big lead. During the second half, (insert opponent's name) rallied, thanks to a seeming lack of intensity or focus by the Tigers. Ultimately, Memphis was able to hold off the rally and come away with a 10-point victory.

OK, that may be a little too generic, however, this scenario is all too familiar to anyone that has regularly watched the Tigers this year. This past Saturday (Jan. 19), the Tigers beat Harvard (60-50) and, once again, the script held.

Memphis took a 16-point lead to halftime and increased it to as much as 20 in the second half. Yet, Harvard managed to take the lead with seven minutes left in the game.

Say what?

Memphis regained the lead and closed out the game, recording its fourteenth win this year. Still, this routine has worn thin. So when the tigers took the court Tuesday night (Jan. 22) to face the Tulane Green Wave, the True Blue Nation was hoping to see a different plotline unfold.

Well, against the 13-5 Green Wave, the first-half storyline was much different, and not in the way that Memphis' fans were hoping to see. Early in the game, Tulane lit up the scoreboard, shooting 47 percent from the field and 50 percent from beyond the arc, knocking down 4 of 8 threes in the first half.

The Green Wave, who lead by as many as 15 in the first 20 minutes, were up by 11 with three minutes left in the half. In the waning minutes of the first period, Memphis' full-court pressure defense forced key turnovers and the Tigers were able to trim the deficit to six points (36-30) before the break.

Although Memphis trailed starting the second half, the energy in the FedExForum was electric. The lackluster play of the Tigers was not what the 15,644 Memphis' fans came to see, yet it was more interesting than the monotonous model the Tigers' games had followed thus far this season.

A few questionable calls by the referees to begin the second half gave the fans more than enough reason to keep their enthusiasm from fizzling.

With about ten minutes left, Memphis reclaimed the lead on a short jumper by Tarik Black. Tulane didn't want to go away.

Four minutes remained when Memphis' Chris Crawford dropped back-to-back threes that seemed to take the wind out of Tulane's sails. And if it didn't, Crawford's assist to D.J. Stephens for a monstrous dunk with just over two minutes remaining broke the Green Wave.

The final score was 71-60 Memphis, as the Tigers improved to 15-3 and 4-0 in C-USA.

Overall, the night was a crowd-pleaser. More than that, the Tigers showed some resolve. They proved that they could dig their way out of a hole and come away with a "W."

At the end of the day, that's the only storyline that counts.

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