HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Memphis men's basketball coach Josh Pastner hasn't tasted defeat in more than two months. Yet he isn't going to take any one of his Tigers' 16 straight victories for granted.
"As I've told people back in Memphis, it's not a birthright to win 16 in a row. It's not a birthright to be ranked in the top 25. I don't take a single win for granted. I enjoy all of them because I know how hard it is."
Adonis Thomas scored 23 points and pulled down 10 rebounds to lead the No. 22 Memphis Tigers to a 71-59 win over Marshall on Saturday night at the Cam Henderson Center.
The win likely will be the Tigers' last in Huntington as Marshall's conference opponent. Memphis moves from Conference USA to the Big East next season. The Tigers lead their series with the Thundering Herd 13-2, winning the last five. Three of the last four Memphis wins over Marshall have been by double digits.
And while the final score might make Memphis' win look easy, the Herd did what it could to snap the Tigers' streak. Up by 17 points at halftime, the Tigers (22-3, 10-0 C-USA) made just one of their first 10 shots of the second half. That allowed the Herd (11-15, 4-7 C-USA) to carve into that lead. When Elijah Pittman made a free throw with 10:44 left in the game, Marshall pulled to within five points at 46-41.
That scoring flurry might have reminded the Tigers of their first win over the Herd this season, the closest Memphis has come to a loss since Louisville won 87-78 at FedEx Forum on Dec. 15. Memphis pulled out a nailbiter over Marshall, 73-72, on Jan. 26.
But Geron Johnson answered with a 3-pointer for Memphis with 10:30 left, and another 3-pointer with 8:22 left capped a 7-2 run that gave the Tigers a 56-43 lead and breathing room for the rest of the game.
Thomas, who recorded a career high in points and tied a career high in rebounds, said that first game in Memphis was in the front of the Tigers' minds coming into Saturday. Film study showed them the flaws they needed to fix for the rematch.|
"We saw a lot of things we did wrong," Thomas said. "The majority of it was things we did wrong. As far as transition defense, we were horrible at Memphis. They had 17 offensive boards as well. We wanted to keep them off the boards the best we could and we wanted to get back in transition and stop some of those threes they made earlier."
Pittman and DeAndre Kane led the Herd with 16 points each, while Dennis Tinnon added 15 points and 13 rebounds. Joe Jackson scored 12 points for Memphis, while Johnson added 11.