Joe Jackson

Memphis rolls past South Florida, 80-58, at home

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Memphis, No. 23 in the nation, had its eight-point first half lead cut to one with more than seven minutes remaining. However, the Tigers would go on a 10-0 run to enter halftime with a 34-22 lead.

In the second half, Memphis’ 3-point shooting heated up as the Tigers cruised to an 80-58 victory over South Florida in American Athletic Conference action on Sunday afternoon at home.

The Tigers entered Sunday as the second-worst 3-point shooting team in the American. South Florida was the only team to have a lower 3-point field goal percentage. Despite its poor shooting from beyond the arc up to this point in the season, Memphis ended the game 10-for-22 from deep, made more impressive by its 1-of-7 3-point shooting to begin the afternoon. Ten threes is a season-high for Memphis.

The long-range shooting clinic began at the end of the first half when Joe Jackson and Chris Crawford each connected from deep to stretch the lead to double digits. In the second half began with a Jackson three. Three minutes later Geron Johnson stroked a triple, the first of six straight made 3-pointers for Memphis. By the sixth one, Memphis was up 28.

The 3-point shooting numbers jump out of the box score, especially since Memphis was 30 percent as a team entering the game. But the Tigers defense, zone and full-court, forced 15 turnovers and sparked the 10-0 run to end the first half, which created separation. Another noticeable stat from Sunday: Memphis assisted on 23 of its 25 field goals.

With the win Memphis remains in the top three in the American with back-to-back road games up next on the conference schedule. The road trip begins against UCF and finishes at SMU on Saturday.

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: