Memphis basketball pounds ECU for its third straight win

GREENVILLE, N.C. — Memphis basketball made the most of this year's extra day, throttling East Carolina 82-58 on Thursday at Menges Coliseum.

On leap day, the Tigers (21-8, 10-6 AAC) extended their winning streak to three games. The win moved Penny Hardaway's team into a tie within a half game for fourth place (with SMU and UAB) in the league standings. The top four teams at the end of the regular season get a double bye into the AAC Tournament in Fort Worth.

Memphis welcomes UAB to FedExForum on Sunday (4:30 p.m., ESPN2).

Niquan Tomlin led the Tigers in scoring for the second straight game with 20 points, while David Jones scored 18 points.

RJ Felton led ECU (14-14, 7-8) with 19.

Here are five takeaways from Thursday's game.

“David Jones is David Jones”

The genial Jones initially smiled when asked about his second-half performance against FAU last week. Then simply display it.

“Only David Jones is David Jones,” he said.

The All-American candidate and AAC's leading scorer was up to his old tricks against the Buccaneers. ECU had no answer for the 6-foot-6 guard, who has scored 18 or more points 12 times in the last 14 games. It was also his sixth brace in his last seven matches. The only game he didn't finish with a double-double was against Charlotte on February 21, when he left the game with an eye injury early in the second period.

Jahvon Quinerly dictates the flow

With few exceptions, when a team's goalkeeper plays well, it usually means good things.

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Jahvon Quinerly has been exceptional in his past three games. After averaging 15.5 points, six assists and one turnover in the Tigers' two wins last week, he had another impressive outing against ECU.

Quinerly was engaged in a controlled play, controlling the game throughout the match. Although he wasn't active in scoring points (10), he finished the game with seven assists (to two turnovers) and four steals.

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Hardaway said last week that he was impressed with the smart play of Tomlin and Nicholas Jordan on the defensive end, although FAU's Vladislav Gauldin scored 22 points and was 9-for-9 from the field.

Against ECU, Tomlin and Jordan combined to be a powerful force on the offensive end in the post.

Tomlin, who has emerged as a star for Memphis in recent weeks, followed up his 21-point, eight-rebound game against FAU with 20 points and five rebounds against ECU. Jordan scored 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting. It's the most points he's scored since dropping 18 points in an overtime win against UTSA on January 10.

Sloppy but productive first half

The good: The Tigers shot 55.6% from the field, had 11 assists on 15 field goals and led 36-24 at halftime.

The bad: The Tigers, after committing just six turnovers in a big win at home against FAU on Sunday, committed nine in the first 20 minutes. They also gave up eight offensive rebounds and had just one possession.

This was a jerky first half for Memphis. ECU is 3-1 in its past four home games and has never given up more than 75 points to an AAC opponent at Minges Coliseum this season. But the Tigers got their A game inside the arc early. Despite hitting just three of their 11 attempts in the first half beyond the arc, they hit 12 of 16 two-pointers and went 3-for-3 at the free throw line.

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The Tigers' defense is also stout

In last week's wins over Charlotte and FAU, Memphis gave up an average of 63 points per game, a far cry from the week before, when the team allowed 91 points per game in losses at North Texas and SMU.

The Buccaneers entered with the worst offense in the AAC at 64.5 points per conference game. Against Memphis, they opened the game going 0-for-7 and 2-of-13 from the field.

Memphis was also troublesome on defense. ECU committed 10 turnovers in the first half. He entered the game averaging 10.4 turnovers all season. The Buccaneers finished with 17 turnovers, the most turnovers they have had in a game this season.

Contact sportswriter Jason Munz at [email protected] or on Twitter @munzly.

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