Tahlequah Daily Press

College Sports

March 15, 2013

No. 20 Memphis topples Tulane at C-USA tournament

Tulsa, UTEP, Southern Miss. all advance at C-USA tournament.

TULSA — When Memphis coach Josh Pastner first presented the idea, Chris Crawford wasn’t immediately sold on moving from the starting lineup to the bench.

With the NCAA tournament right around the corner, he’s showing just how dangerous he can be no matter his role.

Crawford set career-highs with 24 points and six 3-pointers, Adonis Thomas scored 17 points and the 20th-ranked Tigers beat Tulane 81-68 Thursday night in the quarterfinals of the Conference USA tournament.

It was the second straight game and third time in the last four that Crawford put up his new best scoring total of the season. He’s averaging 19.5 points over the last four games, after scoring 8.3 per game in the first 24.

“When he first told me, I was looking at him like he was crazy. I wasn’t feeling it at first,” Crawford said. “But I’m a team guy, so I was willing to sacrifice for my teammates. I’m just trying to do whatever it takes to win.

“We’re an unselfish team. That’s just me being unselfish as a teammate and knowing that I’ve got my guys’ backs.”

The top-seeded Tigers (28-4) took control by scoring the final 14 points of the first half, with Crawford hitting a pair of 3-pointers and then soaring for a right-handed dunk on a fast break to finish it off and make it 44-27. D.J. Stephens also had a two-handed slam and a putback during the big burst.

Crawford made five of his seven 3-point tries in the first half, and eighth-seeded Tulane (19-14) could never get closer than 10 after that.

“Chris has learned that he is an energy guy. He is at his best when he is positive energy,” Pastner said. “He’s not a focus guy because he is so cerebral as a player. He is an energy guy, and when he is positive energy, it is contagious, it radiates, it’s enthusiastic throughout our whole team and it makes his individual play that much better.

“I’m so proud of Chris with his positive energy. That’s why he’s at a high level right now — a very, very high level.”

Josh Davis had 21 points and 15 rebounds to lead the Green Wave, and Jordan Callahan chipped in 18 points. Callahan also tied Michael Christian’s school record, set in 1989-90, with 77 3-pointers on the season.

Memphis, trying to win its seventh Conference USA tournament in eight years, won its 22nd straight game in the series between the two teams.

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