WASHINGTON – After yet another disappointing loss, Memphis coach Josh Pastner decided it was time for a long, long talk with his team.
Pastner addressed his players in the locker room behind closed doors for more than 90 minutes after a 70-59 defeat against Georgetown on Thursday night, the Tigers' third loss in four games.
"We just needed to air some things out, and I thought it was a good, open discussion," Pastner said. "No one in there is happy to be 6-5. Have we played a tough schedule? Darn right. But we're too good to be sitting at 6-5. We're going to find a way to take this into a positive. We have no other option."
The lone bright spot for Memphis was a late surge that cut the lead to seven points after it fell behind by 20 in the second half. Otherwise, the Tigers had plenty of trouble spots to discuss, such as the team's 18 turnovers, and watching as Georgetown blew open the game right after halftime.
"They jumped out on us, man," said Will Barton, who had 12 points and 11 rebounds. "I keep saying, every time we play good teams like that, you cannot come out that flat and expect to win the game. You either have to jump out on them or make it even. You can't get down 20 and then realize you've got to play. Against a good team like that, it ain't going to happen too many times when you come back from 20."
Memphis was plagued by turnovers throughout the game. Memphis had four turnovers on its first seven possessions and turned the ball over 10 times in the first half, finishing with 18. Guard Joe Jackson and Barton had four apiece.
"We had 18 turnovers, and you just can't play like that," Pastner said. "That's 18 wasted possessions."
Chris Crawford scored 17 points to lead the Tigers' offense.
Georgetown (10-1) never trailed as the Hoyas extended their win streak to eight games.
The teams were playing a rare regular-season, non-conference rematch. Georgetown, unranked at the time, defeated then-No. 8 Memphis 91-88 in overtime in the fifth-place game of the Maui Invitational on Nov. 23. The roles were reversed for this contest, with the Hoyas holding the national ranking.
Georgetown didn't need overtime to sweep the season series, taking control with runs to close out the first half and open the second. The Hoyas closed the opening period with a 6-0 spurt in the final 1½ minutes, capped by Henry Sims' massive fast-break dunk with 7 seconds left.
Georgetown came out after halftime and simply overwhelmed Memphis. Thompson's 3-pointer about 45 seconds in pushed the lead to double-digits for the first time — 40-28 — and the margin kept growing.
The Hoyas scored the first seven points of the half before Crawford converted a three-point play with 17:58 left. Georgetown answered with another 7-0 run.
The Hoyas built the lead to 54-34, outscoring Memphis 19-6 over the first 8 minutes of the second half.
"That's how we've played all season," Jackson said. "When we've played good teams with talent, we're always playing from behind, and that's the problem."
Instead of accepting the blowout once they were down 20, the Tigers came back, using a 13-2 run to cut the lead to 58-49 with 8½ minutes to play, helped by three straight turnovers by Georgetown.
Jackson said the meeting after the game had a generally positive tone.
"We just talked about playing for each other more. Instead of when somebody makes a mistake or something like that, instead of holding your head down, just play hard," he said. "We can overcome everything that we're doing. We can get better, and we're going to get better."
However, Pastner knows the Tigers can't keep waiting for improvement.
"We can't keep having meetings," he said. "Eventually we have to get the job done. It's pretty black and white."