MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Corey Davis Jr. scored 17 points and No. 11 Houston weathered a late Memphis rally to defeat the Tigers 61-58 in the semifinals of the American Athletic Conference Tournament on Saturday.
Jeremiah Martin led Memphis with 23 points, most of them from the free throw line, as he made only 5 of 24 shots, including going 1 of 7 from outside the arc.
Memphis (21-13), which struggled offensively throughout the contest, crafted a 10-1 run to pull within 61-58 with a minute left. During that stretch, Houston (31-2), the tournament’s top seed, missed 10 straight shots and failed to score for more than four minutes. That included missing five of six free throws down the stretch.
But Martin missed a 3-point attempt with 20 seconds left. On the final Memphis possession, Tyler Harris missed a 3-pointer, then he attempted a final one that was blocked by Fabian White as time expired.
Houston, the tournament’s top seed, moves on to Sunday’s championship game against the winner of the second semifinal between No. 24 Cincinnati and sixth-seed Wichita State.
Houston: Houston almost let a stellar defensive performance go for naught down the stretch as Memphis made its comeback. The Houston defense was stifling any Memphis offense and thwarting everything Martin tried. In the end, Houston had enough of a lead to hold off Memphis’ final run, although the Tigers had their opportunities.
Memphis: The Tigers, in some circles, were considered a bit of a favorite in the tournament because they lost only twice at home. But both of those were by ranked teams — Tennessee and Cincinnati. Houston, which didn’t play at Memphis during the regular season, made the third as Martin could never get untracked against the Cougar defense
Houston: Awaits the winner of Saturday’s second semifinal game between Cincinnati and Wichita State to play for the championship on Sunday.
Memphis: With a 21-13 record, the Tigers will wait to see if they are invited to play in a postseason tournament.