Elliot Williams scored 20 points to lead five players in double figures, as Memphis (8-2) defeated Southeast Missouri State (4-8), 87-57, in front of a crowd of 16,894 at the FedExForum Tuesday.
Williams, after scoring just four points in the opening stanza, made 5-of-6 field goals and 4-of-5 free throws en route to 16 second-half points. Williams, who scored 20 or more points for the eighth time in nine games, narrowly missed a triple-double with game-highs in rebounds (9) and assists (8), as well.
“I was proud of the way we played today,” said Southeast head coach Dickey Nutt. “We played hard and hung in with a very good Memphis basketball team.”
Memphis went on a 10-0 run in the first 2:20 of the game. Doneal Mack poured in seven of Memphis’ first nine points, as the Tigers scored on each of their first three possessions. Jajuan Maxwell’s layup pulled the Redhawks to within seven (14-7) with 14:18 remaining, but Memphis answered with an 11-2 run to take a 25-9 lead. After that, the Tigers never let their lead dip below double-digits. Memphis, who led 36-22 at the half, struggled from three-point range in the opening stanza. The Tigers made just 22 percent (4-of-18) of their attempts, but made up for their woes with a combined 34 points off turnovers (14) and inside the paint (20). The Redhawks continued to hang tough with Memphis in the second half, where it ignited an 11-4 run over the first 5:09 to cut the Tigers lead to 43-33. Marland Smith scored Southeast’s first nine points of the second half to key the surge which ended on a Rae-Vonn Banks jumper at the 14:51 mark. That, however, was as close as the Redhawks would get. Williams knocked down a three-pointer to give Memphis its biggest lead at 87-54 with 1:48 on the clock before the Tigers polished off their eighth win of the season. Williams shot 7-of-13 from the field, made two three-pointers and hit 4-of-5 at the free throw line. Williams was one of four Memphis starters in double figures on the day. Mack followed with 19 points, while Pierre Henderson-Niles and Willie Kemp added 10 apiece. Wesley Wetherspoon was the fifth Tiger in double figures with 15 points off the bench. The Tigers shot over 50 percent (51.6) from the field and outrebounded Southeast, 42-28. Memphis dished out 22 assists, registered 13 steals and had seven blocks, as well.
“Memphis is extremely talented and athletic. They are going to beat a lot of people,” said Nutt. “It seems like everyone on their team plays above the rim.”
Cameron Butler led all Southeast scorers with 16 points. Butler, who scored double figures for the fourth time this season, had half of his points at the free throw line. He made 8-of-10 free throws in the second half alone, where he scored a total of 14 points. Smith followed with 15 points on 6-of-12 field goals, two of which came from three-point range. He also made 1-of-2 free throws and pulled down a game-high six rebounds. Smith has scored 10 or more points in three of his last four starts
. “Cameron and Marland made some good plays and gave us a big lift, especially in the second half,” commented Nutt. “They continue to get better each game.” With its win today, perennial national power Memphis improved to 100-10 all-time at FedExForum. The Tigers have won 22-straight gams on their homecourt. That streak currently ranks sixth-longest in the nation. Southeast returns to action when it hosts Tennessee Tech on Jan. 2. “We’re going to get back to work and get ready for our conference,” said Nutt. “We’re looking forward to playing somebody our own size so to speak.”