Memphis fends off George Washington

Raleigh, NC ( - Michael Dixon Jr. capped off a 19-point performance by hitting four critical free throws in the final 10 seconds that allowed Memphis to hold on for a 71-66 victory over George Washington in an NCAA Tournament East Region second-round clash.

Dixon finished 6-of-9 from the field and Joe Jackson tallied 15 points and six assists in a game Memphis (24-9) never trailed, but had to ward off a determined Colonials team in the closing stages.

The win advances the eighth-seeded Tigers to Sunday's third round, where they'll face either No. 1 seed Virginia or Coastal Carolina.

George Washington (24-9), making its first NCAA trip since 2007 and playing without second-leading scorer Kethan Savage due to a broken foot, received 21 points from Isaiah Armwood and 16 out of Kevin Larsen.

Maurice Creek, the Colonials' top point producer on the season, managed just nine on a 2-of-13 shooting rate, however.

The Tigers controlled the game virtually the entire way and owned a 64-55 lead with under four minutes remaining, but still had to battle down the stretch after George Washington made one late desperate push.

Creek drilled a 3-pointer off a screen and Patricio Garino scored in transition off a Memphis turnover with 2:39 left, concluding a 7-0 run that brought the Colonials within 64-62.

Dixon answered with a clutch 3-pointer on the ensuing possession, though the Tigers turned it over on their next two trips and the Colonials took advantage.

Two Creek free throws and Joe McDonald's acrobatic layup with 15 seconds to go made it a one-point game at 67-66. Dixon was then fouled on the inbounds and calmly sank both bonus attempts, then made two more after Creek air-balled a 25-footer on GW's last gasp.

The Colonials could never completely recover from a 16-6 Memphis run midway through the first half that snapped an early 10-10 deadlock.

Strong defense fueled the surge, as the Tigers held George Washington without a field goal for more than 7 1/2 minutes and induced five turnovers during the pivotal stretch, which Dixon capped with a 3-point play with 7:56 left in the period that came after a long-range three from Jackson.

Aided by four key Tigers saddled to the bench with two fouls, the Colonials closed the gap behind an 8-2 spurt that cut the lead to 28-24, and trailed 31-26 at the half after Larsen converted a layup with 39 seconds remaining.

Larsen topped all players over the opening frame with 10 points on 4-of-4 shooting, but Creek was held scoreless while going 0-of-4 from the field.

Creek briefly broke out of his drought by burying a trey on the Colonials' initial possession of the second half, which was followed by Armwood's inside bucket that pulled George Washington within 33-31. Back-to-back baskets by Austin Nichols, however, ignited an 8-3 Tigers' flurry that extended the margin back to seven points.

Memphis created some more distance not long afterward, with Dixon's driving lefty layup and Jackson's fast-break score off a Crawford steal jump-starting a 6-0 run that created a 51-41 differential with 12 minutes to go.

Game Notes

George Washington fell to 4-11 all-time in NCAA play and hasn't won a Tournament game since besting UNC Wilmington as an eighth seed in 2006 ... Tigers forward David Pellom spent four years at GW before transferring to Memphis as a grad student prior to the season, averaging 6.5 points and 4.8 rebounds over 88 games with the Colonials. He had four points in 14 minutes against his former school ... George Washington won the only previous meeting with Memphis, a 69-60 triumph in the 1994 Preseason NIT ... Savage, who averaged 12.7 points this season, missed 13 of GW's final 14 games with his injury. He returned for the Atlantic 10 Tournament semifinals, but played just one minute.