MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP)Memphis had a terrible time handling the ball. But it could rebound and it could shoot.
And that was enough for an eighth straight victory.
Precious Achiuwa had 20 points and nine rebounds and DJ Jeffries added 13 points for No. 11 Memphis, which defeated Jackson State 77-49 on Saturday.
This was the first game for the Tigers since top recruit James Wiseman – already suspended by the NCAA – decided to leave the team and prepare for the NBA.
Memphis (10-1) weathered 28 turnovers by converting 32 of its 58 shots when it wasn’t throwing away the basketball, mishandling dribbles or bobbling passes.
Memphis also controlled the glass, outrebounding Jackson State 43-30. Coach Penny Hardaway could accept some of the turnovers, saying they come with the up-tempo, free-flowing style of play. But he was less tolerant of his team handing out only 16 assists, six by sophomore guard Alex Lomax.
”Unforced turnovers, that comes along with giving them their freedom to play basketball on the offensive end and to make the right decision for yourself and for a teammate,” Hardaway said before adding: ”They just didn’t make the right choices.”
The teams finished with combined 53 turnovers. Jackson State has a reputation of turning over teams, forcing opponents into 18.5 a game.
”We can force teams into turnovers. … But the other thing is we don’t normally turn the ball over,” Jackson State coach Wayne Brent said. ”They forced us into 25 turnovers and we didn’t score well.”
Tristan Jarrett led Jackson State (3-9) with 20 points, while Roland Griffin scored 15. The pair combined for 14 of 41 from the floor, contributing to Jackson State’s 32% shooting.
Memphis held a double-digit lead throughout the second half, but had trouble putting away Jackson State because of its ballhandling. A four-point play by Tyler Harris with about seven minutes left extended the Memphis lead to 62-42, providing more than enough room to keep the winning streak going.
”This team deserves a lot of credit for everything we have gone through to be on this winning streak and be 10-1 right now” Hardaway said.
Jackson State: Despite Memphis giving away the ball all game, Jackson State couldn’t benefit because of its poor shooting. And despite Jayveous McKinnis 14 rebounds, Jackson State was outrebounded 43-30.
Memphis: Memphis slowly began to show its home dominance despite the turnovers.
The Wiseman departure was still lingering with Memphis, which had anticipated his return next month after a 12-game NCAA suspension. But now the Tigers are adapting to the reality that the 7-foot-1 center – expected to be a lottery pick in next summer’s NBA draft – is not returning. ”You can’t just grab the ”Men in Black” pen and zap yourself. It’s going to be staying on the brain for a minute. That’s devastating,” Hardaway said with a laugh. ”If anybody has that pen, please zap me.”
Jackson State: Plays at Baylor on Dec. 30.
Memphis: Hosts New Orleans on Dec. 28