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11/18/2012 12:01 AM EST
No. 17 Memphis defeats Samford 65-54
MEMPHIS 65, SAMFORD 54

By CLAY BAILEY
Associated Press

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- While Memphis is trying to find its way to
better execution, the No. 17 Tigers are still managing to get
wins.



Adonis Thomas scored 16 points, while Antonio Barton added 14
points and Memphis escaped with a 65-54 victory over Samford on
Saturday night in an opening game of the Battle 4 Atlantis
Tournament.



Joe Jackson added 13 points, four assists and three steals for
Memphis (2-0), but it took the Tigers connecting on all eight of
their free throws in the final minute to finally grab the
victory as Memphis was taken out of its normal up-tempo game.



"I was disappointed in our lack of everything," Memphis coach
Josh Pastner said. "I thought we played slow. I thought we were
really slow. I thought we were slow in all areas. We were slow
offensively and defensively. ... Our pace wasn't good."



Tim Williams led the Bulldogs (1-3) with 21 points and six
rebounds, connecting on 7 of 11 shots. Raijon Kelly added 12
points on 4 of 6 shooting and five assists.



Samford was within 54-51 with 4:21 left, but Memphis' free throw
shooting in the final minute made the difference.



"I'm not into moral victories; never have, never will,"
first-year Samford coach Bennie Seltzer said. "Those guys in
that locker room are very disappointed, and they should be. They
are extremely disappointed because we felt like we let one slip
away."



The Tigers, who struggled to create any buffer from the Bulldogs
in the first half, seemed to take control of the game, building
a 54-42 lead with just over 9 minutes left when Thomas converted
two free throws.



But Samford answered with nine straight points - four from
Williams and five from Connor Miller (nine points) to get within
three points.



Jackson split a pair of free throws for Memphis, then Thomas
scored four straight points, the last two starting the final run
of free throws to preserve Tigers' win.



"As a coach, I'm proud of their effort," Seltzer said. "I
thought we played hard, but we're supposed to."



Memphis carried a 33-24 lead into halftime, primarily by
protecting the basketball. The Tigers had only one turnover
compared to 10 for Samford.



That offset the Bulldogs' shooting 53 percent for the half. The
Samford offense was focused primarily on Williams, who had nine
points in the half, missing only one of his five shots.



Memphis initially did do a better job of controlling the
freshman forward after he scored the Bulldogs' first two
baskets, recording all of Samford's first five points.



Barton had eight points to lead Memphis in the half.



"We started out a little slow," said Barton, who provided a
spark off the bench. "We've got to start off the game better
with more intensity and more patience."



Samford, which lost to No. 2 Louisville 80-54 on Thursday,
stayed close to the Tigers midway through the half.



Only a 10-4 spurt provided a buffer for Memphis in the first
half. The Bulldogs have not defeated a ranked opponent since a
victory over St. John's, which was No. 15, when Samford defeated
them on Nov. 19, 1999.



The Tigers never led by more than nine in the half.



Pastner continually talked about how his team was unable to get
untracked and run in transition, a style which suits the Tigers
best. Instead, Samford dictated the pace much of the game.



"We are not a team that needs to play slow with our speed and
athleticism," Pastner said. "We were slow, and our guard play
has to be better. I don't want to come down and run set plays. I
want to get into the flow and pace."



And as Memphis has done in previous seasons, they are struggling
early, heading into Thursday's game against VCU at Nassau in The
Bahamas.



"I promise you we haven't peaked," Pastner said. "And I promise,
we are not going into the game on Thursday being cocky or
anything. I can promise you that. This will give us an
opportunity to teach. We've got to be better than what we played
(Saturday)".

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