Lipscomb managed to shoot 40.8 percent from the field (20 of 49), but was stymied by 24 turnovers. Memphis committed 16 turnovers, but had its biggest problems at the free-throw line, converting only 21 of 39 (53.8 percent). Lipscomb was only slightly better at 54.2 percent (13 of 24), and the Bisons inability to connect down the stretch prevented them from overtaking the Tigers.
There was not much enjoyable about the first half for either team. Memphis had a 26-23 lead at the break after a half of poor shooting, sloppy ballhandling and generally lousy play.
Memphis connected on 33.3 percent of its shots (10 of 30), while the Bisons were at 35 percent (7 of 20).
Lipscomb committed 16 turnovers in the half, a testament to its ballhandling woes, but Memphis managed only five points off those miscues.
Memphis was having its own problems with 11 turnovers, although its offensive issues came mostly from firing unsuccessfully over the Lipscomb defense. Then when they tried to go inside, they tended to fumble passes.
There were several lead changes to open the second half, with Lipscomb eventually holding a 29-26 advantage when Smith scored on a drive.
The Tigers responded with 10 straight points for a 36-29 lead. But Lipscomb continually chipped away at the advantage as Hurt scored a couple of baskets inside.
When Hurt converted a three-point play, the game was tied at 41 with 7:25 remaining.
Memphis retook the lead, but it was never comfortable as Lipscomb stayed within 5 points as the Bisons continued scoring inside.
Johnson snapped that trend, scoring consecutive Memphis baskets for a 54-47 lead with just over 3 minutes left.
That provided enough of a buffer for the Tigers to survive, although Lipscomb got within three points twice in the final 1:13. The Bisons' inability to hit free throws in the final 2:06, missing four of its final seven attempts, was the difference down the stretch.
Indiana guard James Blackmon Jr., who averaged 15.8 points in 13 games before being injured last season, has withdrawn from the NBA draft.
Isaiah Briscoe has decided to withdraw from the NBA draft and will return to Kentucky for his sophomore season. Marcus Lee intends to transfer.
The Big 12/SEC Challenge will again feature Kansas and Kentucky, this time at Rupp Arena. That's not the only exciting matchup in next season's midseason conference showdown.