Sion James scores season-high 22 points, Tulane beats No. 10 Memphis 81-79

Sun, Jan 21, 2024
NCAAB News (AP)

Sion James scores season-high 22 points, Tulane beats No. 10 Memphis 81-79

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Memphis coach Penny Hardaway was bitterly disappointed, but hardly stunned, by the 10th-ranked Tigers' second straight loss.

Sion James had a season-high 22 points and Tulane outscored Memphis 22-13 in the final nine minutes to edge the Tigers 81-79 on Sunday.

"It just seems like when it rains, it pours," said Hardaway, whose team was coming off stunning upset loss to South Florida on Thursday. "We blew a 20-point lead against South Florida and then come to a hostile environment, have a chance to win the game and do everything possible to give the game away."

There were no big leads to blow this time. Neither team led by more than seven points in an intensely competitive game that had 11 lead changes and 15 ties. There was even a minor scrum that brought both coaches onto the floor to separate feuding players before Hardaway and Tulane's Ron Hunter diffused it by playfully squaring off with their fists up.

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James hit a pivotal corner 3 that put Tulane (12-6, 3-3 American Athletic Conference) up 77-75 with 2:22 left.

Tulane's Collin Holloway capped his 13-point performance with a layup and two free throws in the final 1:43 to put the Green Wave in front for good.

David Jones had 32 points and 11 rebounds for Memphis (15-4, 4-2), and his block on James' mid-range fade as the shot clock expired gave the Tigers the ball, down by two, with 14 seconds left.

Jones' 3-point attempt for the win rimmed out long off the back iron and the rebound was tapped out to Jones for one more shot with a second on the clock, but his rushed second attempt was deflected by Tulane's Jalen Forbes and students poured onto the court in Tulane's cozy, 90-year-old, 4,000-seat, on-campus arena to celebrate with the team.

"I'm not a big storm-the-court guy," Tulane coach Ron Hunter said. "But there's some occasions at some schools and some environments where you just - you know what? I'm happy for them.

"This is what I've been waiting for," added Hunter, now in his fifth season at Tulane, referring to both the signature victory and the unbridled adulation from a capacity crowd. "This is kind of the puzzle all coming together."

Kevin Cross added 21 points for Tulane, which nearly beat another ranked team 10 days earlier, when the Wave fell 85-84 to No. 23 Florida Atlantic after a foul call on a desperation 3-point shot with less than a second on the clock.

"We've talked so much about the Florida Atlantic situation," Hunter said. "I thought we learned from that and we talked about that in that last timeout."

Malcolm Dandridge scored 13 points for Memphis and had a career-high eight blocked shots, but fouled out in the final minute trying to block Holloway's floater. Holloway hit both free throws to make it 81-77 with 58 seconds left.

Jaykwon Walton hit three 3s and scored 11 points in the first half, but an apparent rib injury sidelined him for the entire second half.

Even before Memphis' 10-game winning streak was snapped earlier in the week, Hardaway had spoken about his transfer-laden squad struggling to find the chemistry needed to execute in the clutch.

"Just because things are going good, it isn't always what it seems," Dandridge said, stressing that the Tigers were fortunate to win a handful of their recent close games leading up to their current slide. "We do have to figure things out."

BIG PICTURE

Memphis: Jones has scored at least 10 points in 19 straight games. He's just the fourth Memphis player to do that since 2016, joining Dedric Lawson, Kendric Davis and DeAndre Williams. The Tigers were done in partly by 14 turnovers, twice the number Tulane committed.

Tulane: The Green Wave had lost 53 straight against AP Top 25 opponents since a 72-63 win over then-No. 25 North Carolina State on Dec. 22, 1999. James' career high of 30 points also came against Memphis on Jan. 1, 2023.

UP NEXT

Memphis: At UAB on Sunday, Jan. 28.

Tulane: At UTSA on Wednesday night.

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