No. 17 Memphis fades down the stretch, loses 83-73 at home to UConn

Memphis is discovering that life in the American Athletic Conference is a bit different than the old days when it dominated Conference USA.

The No. 17 Tigers couldn't keep pace with Connecticut down the stretch Thursday night and dropped their second consecutive home game, losing to the Huskies 83-73.

The defeat, coupled with a 69-53 home loss to Cincinnati on Jan. 4, marked the first time since 1979 that the Tigers lost consecutive home games by double digits.

"I didn't think we played very poorly," Memphis coach Josh Pastner said. "I actually thought we played very well in some areas. UConn just hit some shots, especially at the end."

Michael Dixon led Memphis (12-4, 3-2) with 16 points and Austin Nichols scored 13. Joe Jackson had 11 on 4-of-14 shooting, and Shaq Goodwin added 10.

"They hit some tough shots," Tigers guard Geron Johnson said. "They were a more focused team, and they were better than us. We didn't hit those shots down the stretch in the game. We have to focus more like they did."

Memphis, as it did against Cincinnati, continued to struggle shooting at home. Memphis managed only 44 percent on the night and was 7 of 17 from outside the arc, including 2 of 9 in the second half.

"We did not hit shots at the end, and that was the difference in the ballgame," Pastner said.

DeAndre Daniels had 23 points and a career-high 11 rebounds, while Shabazz Napier added 17 points as Connecticut ended its recent road woes in the conference.

"This was the first one we needed to get," UConn coach Kevin Ollie said. "We got our first road kill in the American Conference."

The Huskies (14-3, 2-2), who previously lost conference games at Houston and SMU, outscored Memphis 8-2 in the final minute to secure their third straight win.

"That was definitely a big one," Napier said. "We hit that little slump where we were not really second-guessing who we were, but trying to figure out how good we really are. Everybody came to play (against Memphis). ... That second half we proved to ourselves that we are a good team."

Daniels was 9 of 15 from the field, including 4 for 5 from outside the arc, and UConn shot 57 percent — 61 percent after halftime. Lasan Kromah finished with 13 points, making all five attempts.

Daniels scored 18 of his points in the second half.

"I felt like when I was in there in the first half, I wasn't as aggressive as I was in the second half," he said. "On the pick-and-pops, I felt like I was open a lot, and I hesitated and I didn't shoot the ball."

The game was close most of the way, with three ties and 13 lead changes. But the Huskies took over down the stretch, and the 10-point margin at the end was the biggest advantage for either team.

"We slowed up the game a little bit to put it to our pace," Napier said. "There were a couple of times where I had the ball and I told the guys to just relax, we're going to get the right shot. I think that helped us out.

"It just shows how intelligent this group of players are."