Tigers start AAC tournament with 85-69 win over UCF
FORT WORTH, Texas – The third-seeded Memphis Tigers took the best shot from the sixth-seeded UCF Knights, but the Tigers pulled out for an 85-69 victory Friday night in the quarterfinals of the 2022 U.S. Athletics Championship at Fort Worth, TX.
Memphis (20-9) has won five straight and 11 of its last 12 overall. The Tigers have now recorded five straight 20-win seasons, including all four seasons under the head coach Penny Hardaway.
AAC Freshman of the Year Jalen Duren shot a 21-point, 20-rebound game for the Tigers, and Lester Quinone scored a career-high 22 points. DeAndre Williams added 14 and six rebounds, and Josh Minott contributed 12 points and seven boards.
Duren’s 20 rebounds set an AAC tournament record, and his 20-20 game is the 14th in the nation this year. The last Tiger with a 20-20 game was Precious Achiuwawho had 22 points and 22 rebounds at Tulane on February 29, 2020.
The Tigers stormed out the door Friday night, leading 26-5, 30-9 before taking a 41-31 lead into the locker room at halftime. But UCF scored eight of the first nine points of the second half to draw less than three, and the Knights made it a two-point game at 44-42 after a 3-pointer by Dr. Fuller Jr.
In what became the game-changing streak of the night, Memphis then pulled off an 8-0 run in 49 seconds to reclaim a double-digit lead. Duren lying in a Alex Lomax flat, Williams had a steal that led to a Lomax triple and Lomax then stole the UCF inbound play that contributed to a Quinones 3-pointer.
The Tigers finished the game shooting 49.2 percent from the field (30-61), and the Tigers were 19 for 23 from the free throw line (.826). Memphis outshot UCF, 47-24, and the Tigers had 21 assists on their 30 field goals.
UCF (18-12) was led by Darius Perryit’s 23 points.
The Tigers will take on second-seeded SMU in the semifinals of the AAC tournament on Saturday at 4 p.m. on ESPN2. With a win, Memphis would advance to the championship game Sunday at 2:15 p.m. on ESPN.
- Memphis used the starting formation of Alex Lomax, Lester Quinone, Nolley II landers, DeAndre Williams and Jalen Duren for the eighth game in a row.
- Memphis has used 16 different starting rosters in 29 games this season, but that same roster since Feb. 12 at No. 6/7 Houston.
- The Tigers are now 8-7 all-time in the AAC Tournament.
- Memphis leads the all-time series with UCF, 29-7.
- This includes a 2-1 advantage at neutral sites.
- The Tigers also eliminated the Knights in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament last season.
- The Tigers haven’t trailed for a single second in four straight games.
- In its last 10 wins, Memphis has only trailed 21:41 of a possible 400:00 in game time.
- Memphis shot 82.6% from the free throw line (19-23).
- The Tigers have played 10 games this season shooting at least 80.0 percent from the line after at least 15 attempts.
- Memphis accomplished the feat just once last season and four times in total in 2019-20.
- Memphis has won eight straight games by scoring 80 or more points.
- Jalen Duren was 8 for 14 from the floor en route to his 21-point performance, and six of his 20 rebounds came on the offensive side.
- Duren had a 22-point, 19-rebound game earlier this season against Western Kentucky on Nov. 19.
- The double-double is the native of Sharon Hill, Pa., second in the last three games and best seventh of the year.
- He’s scored in double figures in 11 of the last 12 games.
- The previous freshman AAC tournament single-game rebound record was 12, achieved three times (Daniel Hamilton, UConn vs. Tulsa, 3/14/15; Tacko Fall, UCF vs. Tulane, 3/10/16; Dedric Lawson, Memphis vs. Tulsa, 3/11/16).
- The previous AAC Tournament single-game rebound record was 16, set by East Carolina’s Kentrell Barkley against Temple on March 9, 2017.
- Lester Quinone hit his career-high five 3-pointers to help him reach his career-high 22 points.
- The junior has hit double digits in four consecutive games and 10 of the last 11 games.
- He previously made four 3-pointers in a game six times, most recently against East Carolina on Jan. 27, 2022.
- DeAndre Williams finished with 14 points, six rebounds, three assists, two steals and one block.
- The senior has scored 10+ points in four of his last five outings.
- Josh Minott played 17 minutes and had 12 points, seven rebounds, two assists, a steal and a block.
- His 12 points are his best since he had 16 against UCF on Feb. 5.
- The rookie has now scored in double figures in 20 minutes or less six times this season.
- Alex Lomax had seven assists and three steals on the night.
- Memphis is 28-7 when the senior has five or more assists in a game in his career.
- That includes a 6-3 mark this year.