Orlando, FL – Chris Crawford and Joe Jackson each scored 19 points as the 19th-ranked Memphis Tigers claimed their sixth outright Conference USA regular season title with a 76-67 victory over the UCF Knights.
Adonis Thomas added 12 points for the Tigers (25-4, 14-0 C-USA), who had an 18-game winning streak snapped Tuesday when it dropped a narrow 64-62 decision at Xavier.
Keith Clanton ended with 29 points and six rebounds for the Knights (19-10, 8-6), who had a two-game winning streak snapped. Calvin Newell and Kasey Wilson tallied 13 and 11 points, respectively.
"I am disappointed that we lost, but I am very proud of these guys," UCF head coach Donnie Jones said. "Give Memphis credit, that is a good basketball team."
The Knights actually started the game on a 14-4 run, but Memphis responded with the next eight points. Damien Wilson's slam cut the gap to 14-12 with 11:14 left.
The Tigers continued to trail until the final minutes of the first half. Down by three, 27-24, with 2:54 remaining, Memphis went on a 10-0 surge. Tarik Black's dunk gave the visitors a 34-27 edge. Staphon Blair stopped the spurt with a layup to get UCF within five at the break.
"We didn't have control at all in that first half, but the second half we played a lot better," Jackson said. "We got all five guys involved."
The Knights went on a 9-0 run early in the second half to tie the game at 38. It remained close over the next few minutes.
Holding a 42-41 lead with about 14 1/2 minutes to play, the Tigers went on a 12-2 run to create some distance. Crawford capped the surge with a jumper to make it a 54-43 contest.
Crawford added a 3-pointer with about eight minutes remaining to give Memphis a 61-48 margin.
UCF never got closer than six the rest of the way.
Memphis holds a 14-1 edge in the all-time series and has won four straight meetings, including a 93-71 rout a couple of weeks ago at the FedExForum ... Memphis coach Josh Pastner picked up his 100th career victory.