Tigers Fall in Battle with Eighth Ranked Sooners

Dedric Lawson collects first career career double-double

Courtesy of Memphis Media Relations Special to The Times

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The Memphis Tigers went toe-to-toe with eighth-ranked Oklahoma on Tuesday evening, falling in a hard-fought 84-78 loss at FedExForum as part of the ESPN College Basketball Marathon.  Freshman Dedric Lawson led four Tigers in double-figure scoring with a career-high 22 points while adding a career-high 15 rebounds. Avery Woodson and Markel Crawford each scored a dozen points while Trahson Burrell chipped in 10.  Shaq Goodwin added seven rebounds for the Tigers, which had an even rebounding margin in the game, as each team grabbed 48 rebounds over the 40 minutes of action. Ricky Tarrant Jr. dished out a team-best five assists while Goodwin blocked a career-high-tying five shots as Dedric Lawson swatted three shots in the losing effort.  Oklahoma All-American Buddy Hield scored a game-high 30 points in the winning effort, while Ryan Spangler had an 11-point, 12-rebound double-double for the Sooners.  Trailing by three with just over five minutes to play in the game, the Tigers got lay-ups from Burrell and Dedric Lawson, before Ricky Tarrant Jr. hit a pair of free throws to put the hosts ahead 74-71 with 3:16 to play in the game.  The Sooners would rally, however, as a Dedric Lawson lay-in with 1:37 gave Memphis its final lead of the game at 76-75, before the veteran Oklahoma squad closed the game on a 9-2 run to take home the six-point win.  “That was a good, hard-fought game. I thought our guys battled and played the right way,” said Memphis head coach Josh Pastner. “All you can ask for is a chance to win the game at the last media timeout and we had some chances. We didn’t take advantage of some chances, whether it was free throws, or layups or open threes. But I loved how we played and I love this team. I’m excited about this team. We can continue to get better the more we have game experience and the more that we get on the floor. Tiger Nation is going to fall in love with this team, because of how hard they play.”  Oklahoma (1-0) jumped out to an early lead over the opening eight and a half minutes, leading 16-8 following a Buddy Hield jumper before the Tigers went on a 9-0 run that brought the crowd of 12,688 at FedExForum to its feet, and gave Memphis its first lead since the opening minute of the contest.  The visitors surged again late in the opening half, pushing ahead to a seven-point lead with 4:09 to play in the period, but Memphis would not give in, chipping away at the Sooner advantage. The Tigers closed the gap to one heading into the locker room after a Markel Crawford lay-in with 36 seconds to play in the opening period.  In the second half the Sooners led by as many as six points following a Dante Buford tip-in with 11:13 to play, but the Tigers fought back in a big way, using an 11-3 run capped by back-to-back fastbreak dunks from Markel Crawford to take a 66-64 lead, forcing Oklahoma into a timeout with just over six minutes to play in the game.  The teams went back-and-forth as the lead changed hands five times over the next five minutes, with the Tigers holding a 76-75 lead with 1:37 to play; however, the veteran Oklahoma squad closed the contest on a 9-2 run to give the contest its 84-78 final score.  “We’ve got a lot to build on and there were definitely a lot of positives,” Woodson said. “It was just a tough loss. They are the eighth-ranked team in the nation and we played as good of a game as they did. It just came down to the wire and we missed some shots and they made some. We’ve got a lot to build on.”  Memphis returns to action on Thursday evening against Grambling State at FedexForum on ESPN3.

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