Memphis overcomes poor early shooting to silence Hurricanes

CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- Will Barton leaped for one final alley-oop dunk with a minute left, and when he landed near the Memphis Tigers' bench, he was grinning at his cheering teammates.

The high-flying sophomore scored three times on the receiving end of lobs Tuesday night, and his career highs of 27 points and 14 rebounds helped Memphis (No. 20 ESPN/USA Today, No. 21 AP) overcome a poor night of outside shooting to beat the Miami Hurricanes 71-54.

The Tigers, who sank 15 3-pointers in a rout three nights earlier, went 1 for 12 from beyond the arc. But they repeatedly worked the ball inside in the second half to pull away, and scored four times on alley-oops.

"Our point guards are going to find you in the air," Barton said. "All you have to do is get to the rim."

Coach Josh Pastner liked the lobs.

"As long as they keep converting them, keep throwing them," he said.

Memphis (5-2) fell behind 7-0 but pulled away in the second half to win its third game in a row.

"When you're on the road, it's not going to be pretty," Pastner said. "We were able to grind this one out."

The Hurricanes (5-3) lost in their first game against a ranked team, and the defeat snapped a streak of 27 consecutive non-conference home victories.

Barton shot 12 for 20 while adding four steals. He had five offensive rebounds.

"He looked like an animal out there the way he hit the boards," teammate Chris Crawford said.

Crawford totaled nine points, four steals and five assists, including two on lobs to Barton.

"The timing's got to be right," Crawford said. "It's always fun to get highlight plays in the game."

Miami coach Jim Larranaga said that while his team defended the perimeter shots well, Memphis penetrated too easily.

"They were able to get by us and force help, and then the guy just threw it up in the air," Larranaga said. "You're shooting at point-blank range with no one jumping up there with you."

Adonis Thomas had 10 rebounds for the Tigers, who enjoyed a 44-37 advantage on the boards.

"Right now we're just a little small," Larranaga said. "They had a height advantage. We just did not have enough resistance defensively."

The Hurricanes cooled off after their fast start and finished at 36 percent from the field and 50 percent from the free throw line. Their point total was a season low.

Miami's talented guard trio of Durand Scott, Malcolm Grant and Shane Larkin combined for only 22 points. Kenny Kadji had 12 points for the Hurricanes, and Scott and Trey McKinney Jones added 10 apiece.

There were seven lead changes in the first half. The Tigers took a 27-26 lead into the second half and slowly pulled away.

"Miami was a good team," Barton said. "The difference was us staying tough. We never caved in."

Joe Jackson was 0 for 6 from the field before he sank the Tigers' only 3-pointer to put them up 40-35.

Crawford fed Barton for scores on consecutive possessions, then converted a three-point play that made it 53-46. Stan Simpson's layup gave the Tigers their first double-digit margin, 59-49, and the Tigers sank eight free throws in the final four minutes to increase their cushion.

"They had an answer for everything," Kadji said. "Credit to them."

The Hurricanes sank consecutive 3-pointers en route to the 7-0 lead. Barton made a steal and dunk for the Tigers' first basket, then scored on their next two possessions as well.

Barton dunked on an alley-oop pass from Crawford to give the Tigers their first lead, 14-13. The Hurricanes missed eight of their final nine shots in the opening half to fall behind for good.

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