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No. 15 Memphis squares up for showdown with SMU

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No. 15 Memphis shoots for its eighth straight win on Sunday when it hosts SMU, winners of four in a row, in an American Athletic Conference headliner.

Jahvon Quinerly drilled a 3-pointer with 3.5 seconds left as the Tigers (12-2, 1-0) survived squandering a seven-point lead in 17 seconds during the final minute to escape with a 78-75 win over Tulsa on Thursday night.

Quinerly connected three times from beyond the arc and finished with 11 points for the second consecutive contest.

“He lost his composure, which you don’t want happening,” Memphis coach Penny Hardaway said of Quinerly. “But I still had confidence in him taking that last shot. Give Tulsa credit, they’ve come from behind on a lot of teams this year and they don’t give up.”

Five players scored in double figures for the Tigers, led by David Jones and Nae’Qwan Tomlin with 17 points apiece. Jaykwon Walton contributed 11 points and Malcolm Dandridge added 10 as Memphis overcame 21 turnovers by shooting 50.0 percent from the floor (27 of 54).

All was not rosy for the Tigers, however. Caleb Mills sustained an apparent non-contact left knee injury during the first half and was carried off the floor.

“He was out there on the table just crying his eyes out. It’s hard for his teammates to look at that because he’s a fifth-year senior that came here to do things differently and wants to finish his career out on a high note. Then end up getting what could be a season-ending injury, with the way that we’re playing,” Hardaway said. “That was tough on everybody. It’s still hard to watch your brother down there. I mean, he was crying. I know he feels like his season is over. So I mean that doesn’t sit well with the guys.”

The Tigers toppled the Mustangs on two occasions last season, marking their first sweep of SMU in the same season since 2008-09.

The Mustangs (10-4, 1-0) upped their win streak to four games with a 66-54 victory over Charlotte on Tuesday.

Preseason All-AAC selection Zhuric Phelps scored 13 points and Samuell Williamson added 12 to pace SMU. Tyreek Smith collected nine points and a season-high 11 rebounds off the bench for the Mustangs.

“One of the things we said as we were going through the year and when the year was over is that we’re moving in the right direction,” SMU coach Rob Lanier said. “Maybe not fast enough, but we were moving in the right direction and I still feel that way. I never thought this was going to be an overnight proposition. Everything I said at the (introductory) press conference, I still believe and I believe even more now than I did when I started. We’re trending in the right direction. We’ve also got a long way to go.”

SMU’s calling card has been its defense, as it has held opponents to just 36.2 percent shooting from the floor while keeping 13 of 14 foes to under 42.0 percent from the field.

–Field Level Media

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