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03/02/2013 4:56 PM EST
No. 19 Memphis beats Central Florida 76-67
MEMPHIS 76, UCF 67

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Memphis did what it always seems to do this
time of the years, win another Conference USA regular
championship.



Joe Jackson and Chris Crawford both scored 19 points and the
19th-ranked Tigers claimed their eighth CUSA title with a 76-67
victory over Central Florida on Saturday.



Adonis Thomas added 12 points for the Tigers (25-4, 14-0 CUSA),
who gave coach Josh Pastner his 100th career win, all at
Memphis.



Keith Clanton had 29 points and six rebounds for UCF (19-10,
8-6). Kasey Wilson added 11 points and Isaiah Sykes had 10
points, nine rebounds and five assists.



Memphis, which was coming off a 64-62 defeat against Xavier,
their first loss after 18 straight wins. turned up the defensive
pressure in the middle of the second half to break open a close
game.



"We were probably a little tight after losing a game for the
first time in a while," Pastner said. "But we got some energy
off our bench, especially Chris (Crawford), who played at an
extremely high level, and that helped us find a way to win."



UCF was unable to sustain the momentum of an early rush when
they led by 10 points after just 6 minutes.



"We had some guys playing more minutes than they were used to
and we probably got tired some there in the second half," UCF
Coach Donnie Jones said. "I thought we had some plusses out of
this game, but Memphis is a tough, physical team that presents a
lot of matchup problems and we couldn't hang with them."



Memphis got the first two baskets of the second half to stretch
the lead to 38-29 before Clanton ran off nine straight points.
The last two came on a two-fisted slam that tied the game at 38
with 15:47 to go.



Crawford stopped the run with a 15-footer and Jackson scored six
points as Memphis regained control with a 16-5 run that made it
54-43 with 11:23. Memphis' lead never went under six points
after that.



UCF sliced the deficit to 68-62 when Newell drilled a 3-pointer
with 3:37 to play, but the Knights couldn't handle Memphis' size
and strength inside. Tigers center Shaq Godwin bullied his way
past Clanton for layups on three straight possessions and Black
had a layup on the next possession to end any hopes of a rally.



"We didn't have control at all in that first half, but the
second half we played a lot better," Jackson said. "We got all
five guys involved. One guy can be stopped, but when you have
all five guys attacking and playing good help defense, it's a
lot easier."



UCF took advantage of a sloppy start by Memphis, taking a 14-4
lead in the first 6 minutes of the game, but the Tigers settled
down defensively and eventually gained control.



Crawford started a 13-5 run to end the half with a 3-pointer and
Tariq Black finished it with a thunderous dunk. Along the way,
the Tigers forced three straight turnovers and ran off 10
consecutive points to take a 34-29 halftime lead.

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