Memphis Easily Defeats Tulsa For First Ever AAC Tournament Victory

Courtesy American Athletic Conference

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Photo Credit: Edward Fabara / The SkyBoat

Newly crowned AAC Rookie of the Year Dedrick Lawson led all scorers with 22 points.

The Memphis Tigers easily handled Tulsa in the final American Athletic Conference Tournament quarterfinal matchup, 89-67, setting up a Saturday showdown with the underdog Tulane Green Wave.

Newly crowned AAC Rookie of the Year Dedrick Lawson proved his merit against the Golden Hurricane. The freshman forward led all scorers with 22 points, while also pulling down 12 rebounds. It was Lawson’s 10th 20-point game this season.

Head coach Josh Pastner earned Memphis’ first AAC Tournament win since joining the league three year ago.

“Our big thing was we had 13 assists and only eight turnovers, we did a great job taking care of the ball.” Pastner said. “Tulsa’s a very good basketball team, very well coached, and obviously we’re fortunate in how — when you’re making shots like that, it opens everything up.”

This Memphis team has shown flashes at times, but have also had their struggles, having losses to conference bottom feeders Tulane and East Carolina.

However, the Tigers have picked up their play at the end of the year, and closed the regular season with a 30-point victory over ECU, something Pastner feels has created some momentum heading into the postseason.

“We just have been one of those teams this year that we have just been — there’s been some inconsistencies,” Pastner said. “But the last three weeks of the season, we have been our most consistent we have been all year long, and we just need to continue to doing it moving forward tomorrow.”

Three other Tigers joined Lawson with double-figures in the scoring column; Ricky Tarrant, 21; Trashon Burrell, 19; Avery Woodson, 12. Woodson, who also pulled down 10 rebounds from the guard position, suffered an apparent shoulder injury and is a game-time decision for tomorrow’s game against Tulane.

Memphis and Tulane split the season series during the regular season, winning the home matchup back in December, 79-65, and losing in overtime on the road, 94-87 on Feb. 13.

Memphis-Tulane will take place at 5 p.m. Saturday, preceded by Temple-UConn in the other semifinal matchup at 3 p.m. from the Amway Center.