Memphis Tigers basketball inked its first victory of the season with a quality 97-81 win over the Belmont Bruins. The Tigers are currently ranked No. 10 in both the AP Poll and Coaches' Poll.
Memphis opened to an early 16-4 lead before Belmont mounted a scoring run that brought the Bruins within four points of the Tigers. With some scrappy play late in the first half, Belmont pestered Memphis by closing the lead to two, before the Tigers closed the half with a late run that put the Memphis up by seven going into the locker room.
Belmont struggled in the second half, falling behind Memphis by 18 points during the Tigers' largest lead. The Bruins mounted a comeback, however, but the in-state Memphis opponent could only pull within seven before the Tigers decided to seal the victory with a 13-4 run in the last 3:43 of the game.
Joe Jackson looked phenomenal for the Tigers. It's apparent that his experience playing for the USA Basketball Under-19 team paid huge dividends for the young program, as Jackson finished with 33 points, four rebounds and seven assists.
Belmont was clearly outmatched by Jackson's speed. Jackson repeatedly cut to the basket, laying in numerous shots off the glass along with a dunk from the 6'0" point guard. Even more impressive was Jackson's ability to find the open man in transition.
Will Barton continues to impress basketball fans with his incredible touch and agility down the floor. The sophomore finished with a game high 23 points, despite an 0-4 day from three point range.
Other contributors included a red-hot Wesley Witherspoon who was three for three from three point range before getting into foul trouble. Charles Carmouche was also very impressive with five steals and two three pointers made for the Tigers.
All in all, it was a very solid opening game victory for this young Memphis squad. Probably the fastest college basketball team in the country, look for the Tigers to earn their stripes in the Maui Invitational when they take on No. 17 Michigan at 3:00 p.m. Eastern on Monday, November 21.
Can the talented Tigers limit their youthful mistakes to cruise past a challenging Michigan program?