MEMPHIS, Tenn. — KJ Lawson scored 15 of his 16 points in the second half as Memphis came from behind to defeat Southern 72-67 Tuesday night in FedExForum.
The Tigers won their fifth game in a row to improve to 7-2. The Jaguars fell to 7-3 heading into a game against Louisiana Tech on Friday in Ruston.
Memphis, which is second in the country in highest percentage of points coming from the free-throw line, enjoyed a big edge at the foul line. The Tigers, who average scoring 27.8 percent of their points on free throws, scored 33 percent at the line despite making just 67 percent of their foul shots (28-of-42). Southern made 12-of-16.
Three Jaguars — D’Adrian Allen, Shawn Prudhomme and Tony Nunn — fouled out and Southern committed 31 fouls, compared to 17 for Memphis. One Tiger — Goodwin – fouled out.
“We knew they get to the foul line a lot and they attack,” Jaguars coach Roman Banks said. “From a coaching perspective, you’ve got to get your team to play better defense without fouling.”
Sophomore forward Jared Sam led Southern with game-highs of 26 points and 12 rebounds, making 9-of-11 field goals and 8-of-10 free throws. Adrian Rodgers scored 18 points and Trelun Banks had 12.
“Jared probably had the best game of his career,” coach Banks said.
Trahson Burrell had 15 points for the Tigers, Dedric Lawson had 11 points and 10 rebounds and Ricky Tarrant Jr. scored 11 points.
Southern had a 59-56 lead after Sam made a layup with seven minutes remaining, but the Jaguars went cold.
A Sam free throw gave Southern its final lead at 60-59, but K.J. Lawson hit a jumper, Dedric Lawson made a layup and K.J. Lawson hit another jumper to give the Tigers a 65-60 lead with three minutes left.
K.J. Lawson made a free throw to create a six-point lead, but consecutive layups by Rodgers and Banks pulled the jaguars within two with a minute to play.
Dedric Lawson lost the ball out of bounds, giving Southern a chance to tie when Sam was fouled with 26 seconds left. Sam made the first and missed the second before K.J. Lawson beat the Jaguars defense to the basket for a layup.
The Jaguars had 17 seconds to get a 3-pointer to try and tie. Banks was several feet beyond the 3-point line when his defender jumped. Banks leaned in trying to draw a foul and launched a shot with his off hand. A foul wasn’t called, Memphis rebounded and Tarrant made two free throws with one second left.
“I hate to lose, but I still feel like we got better,” coach Banks said. “I I think we grew up some. I don’t know that I could have asked for much more.”
The score was tied at 29 at halftime and six more times before Banks’ 3-pointer gave Southern a 44-41 lead with 13:57 left.
But the Tigers already were in the double bonus and would make 13-of-20 free throws the rest of the ay while the Jaguars made 7-of-9.
Memphis got off to a slow start for the third consecutive game. The Tigers trailed Manhattan 38-36 at halftime last Saturday before dominating the second half in an 89-57 win. A week they led winless Southeast Missouri just 37-35 at halftime before winning 80-65.
Rodgers scored nine and banks had four as the Jaguars grabbed a 13-5 lead before Memphis got untracked.
The Tigers scored 11 straight points as Southern went 3½ minutes without scoring.
Memphis made five of six free throws to increase its lead to 26-19.
A Banks 3-pointer started and a Rodgers 3-pointer completed a 10-3 finishing run that got the Jaguars even at 29 at halftime.