MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Memphis coach Josh Pastner was disappointed with how his team played against Arkansas-Little Rock on Friday night.
Fortunately for Pastner and the Tigers, they found a way to win anyway.
Shaq Goodwin scored 17 points and No. 16 Memphis rallied for a 73-59 victory over the Trojans.
Joe Jackson also had 17 points for the Tigers, but was 3 for 11 from the field. Memphis (7-1) was tied with Arkansas-Little Rock with under 7 minutes to go, but the Trojans faded down the stretch.
"They kicked our butt that first half, really probably the first 30 minutes or so," Pastner said.
Josh Hagins led Arkansas-Little Rock (3-6) with 17 points, connecting on 6 of 11 shots. Will Neighbour scored 10 of his 15 points in the first half, helping the Trojans build a double-digit lead.
"I thought our guys moved the basketball well in the first half," Arkansas-Little Rock coach Steve Shields said. "I thought we were aggressive versus their pressure. We weren't passive. We hit some cutters versus the press.
"I thought we got away from that a little bit in the second half, and we got a little bit tentative. Memphis will force you to do that."
Geron Johnson scored 13 points for Memphis, which shot 52 percent in the second half of its sixth consecutive victory. Goodwin also had nine rebounds.
The Tigers outrebounded the Trojans 41-32 and scored 28 points off 17 Arkansas-Little Rock turnovers.
But Pastner was so frustrated by his team's lack of focus that he didn't make any players available postgame. He doesn't have a lot of time to get the Tigers back on track; they play No. 19 Florida in the Jimmy V Classic on Tuesday.
Pastner mentioned players were dealing with finals this week.
"All I talked about was Little Rock and understanding you can't sleepwalk," Pastner said. "You have to be so ready to go. You can't give this team any hope.
"Our guys came out, and I don't know what it was. They thought they could go away from the system that has been working for us."
Arkansas-Little Rock played with more passion in the first half, and Memphis struggled on offense for much of the first part of the game. The Tigers missed 12 of their first 14 shots and were still at 20 percent shooting with 5 minutes remaining before the break.
"We wanted to be aggressive," Shields said. "We wanted to be sound, but aggressive defensively. We felt like we had to switch it on them some, and go some zone and switch it back to man. We were fortunate they missed some shots early as well."
The Trojans led by as many as 12, but Johnson helped Memphis put together a 16-4 run that tied at 21. Johnson had 10 points in the first half.
Hagins and Kemy Osse scored five points apiece down the stretch, helping the Trojans to a 31-24 lead at the break.
Memphis shot 28 percent from the field in the first half, but turned it around after halftime. Chris Crawford made a 3-pointer to give the Tigers their first lead at 42-41, then hit another one from long range.
It was back and forth for a while from there, before Memphis grabbed control with a 12-1 spree. David Pellom got it started with two baskets, and Jackson closed it out with five straight points.
The run gave Memphis a 58-49 lead with 4 minutes left, and the Trojans never threatened again.
Pastner was particularly critical of his four senior guards - Jackson, Johnson, Crawford and Michael Dixon - saying they didn't show leadership in getting the team to play hard.
"When they don't play well, our team is not going to be as good," Pastner said. "We need those guys to be really good every single time on the floor. We're counting on those guys to be elite - not individually, but collectively."