MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Even though his team struggled to make shots and rebound, Memphis coach Josh Pastner saw plenty of positives.
Joe Jackson scored 10 of his 17 points in the second half and the 19th-ranked Tigers overcame a poor shooting night to beat Miami 72-68 early Tuesday.
“We were fortunate to get the W, but we did some good things, too, defensively,” Pastner said. “I don’t know if you would call it an escape. I call it a good win. Fortunate. But winning is hard, and sometimes you’re going to have games like that.”
Memphis will face LSU Sunday in Tupelo at BancorpSouth Arena.
Memphis is home against Northwestern State (1-1) tonight.
LSU (1-0) played Nicholls on Tuesday night and plays Tennessee-Martin on Thursday.
BancorpSouth Arena official Todd Hunt said about 1,000 tickets, all priced at $12, remain for Sunday’s 4 p.m. game. “I have no doubt we’ll sell all of them by Sunday,” Hunt said.
Charles Carmouche had 13 points, and Wesley Witherspoon added 12 despite shooting 1 of 5 from the field. Antonio Barton finished with 10 for the Tigers (2-0), who shot 34 percent and went 4 for 22 from 3-point range in a game that began at midnight.
The Hurricanes (1-1) received their expected scoring from guards Duran Scott (20 points) and Malcolm Grant (18). But they also got stellar play from Reggie Johnson, who had 12 points and 12 rebounds.
Miami (33 percent) shot slightly worse than Memphis but dominated the boards 51-31, including 23 offensive rebounds.
“I feel like we let them off the hook,” Miami coach Frank Haith said. “There are very few times that you are plus-20 on the boards, and they shoot under 40 percent and 18 percent from 3, that you lose the game.”
Memphis had a six-point lead with 9:10 remaining, but Johnson scored six straight points to tie it.
The Hurricanes took a 63-59 lead with 3:55 to play on a free throw and 3-pointer by Grant.
The teams were tied at 66 with a minute left. Will Coleman blocked Scott’s layup attempt, a play that led to a foul that sent Carmouche to the line. He hit both free throws to give Memphis the lead for good.
The Tigers made six of eight free throws in the final minute to hang on for the victory. Memphis was 30 of 39 from the foul line for the game.
D.J. Stephens’ basket inside as time expired in the first half gave Memphis 38-37 lead. The Hurricanes’ zone defense kept the Tigers outside the arc throughout the half, and Memphis missed 10 of its 12 shots from 3-point range.
The Hurricanes also controlled the boards, outrebounding Memphis 23-14 in the half.
Miami maintained its defensive pressure throughout the game.
“If we go back and look at it, of their 19 field goals, there were few made against our set defense,” Haith said. “They scored a ton of buckets off our turnovers in transition.”
Memphis built the lead to 48-39 in the early stages of the second half, as Jackson scored eight of the Tigers’ first 10 points after intermission.
“I wasn’t really thinking about taking over,” he said. “I am so used to doing that, it just comes natural now. They were giving me opportunities, and I was taking them. I was taking what the defense was giving me.”
Neither team could pull away in a game that had 13 ties and 15 lead changes, and was slowed by a rash of fouls — 29 on each team.
“We held on and we came back and got the W,” Pastner said. “We made some big defensive stops toward the end of the game. We were hanging our hats on defensive rebounding, even through our rebounding was awful. … We rebounded the ball in the last minute and made stops.”
The Associated Press