Memphis cruises past Herd, 80-57

Published 3:04 am Thursday, January 8, 2009

MEMPHIS — Memphis led by only seven points at halftime but opened the second half with a 32-10 surge en route to an 80-57 victory over Marshall in the Conference USA men’s basketball opener Wednesday at FedExForum.

The Tigers (11-3, 1-0 C-USA) received 10 and eight-point contributions after halftime from Tyreke Evans and Shawn Taggart, respectively, that put Memphis ahead comfortably after a tight opening 20 minutes. Marshall (7-7, 0-1) led by two points with under seven minutes remaining in the first half and trailed by just one point with 1:52 remaining before Memphis went on a half-ending 6-0 run to enter intermission up 35-28.

Memphis, the defending league champions, quickly built a double-digit lead three minutes into the second stanza and never let the Thundering Herd post a serious threat the remainder of the contest. The win gave the Tigers their 43rd straight win in C-USA play and moved their all-time record at FedExForum to 83-10.

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Marshall senior guard/forward Markel Humphrey came off the bench to score a team-high 14 points on 4-of-7 shooting and a 6-for-7 night from the free-throw line. Wednesday marked Humphrey’s first non-start of the season as he continues to battle a nagging foot injury. Forward Tyler Wilkerson and point guard Damier Pitts netted 11 points apiece for the Herd, with Wilkerson adding a team-high eight rebounds.

Wilkerson had a strong first half but quickly reached four fouls early in the second half which limited his minutes. Octavius Spann added seven points for the Herd while freshman Shaquille Johnson scored six points.

The Tigers shot 53.3 percent after halftime (47.5 percent for the game) while Marshall converted just 21.2 percent.