Davis posts double-double in 81-68 Tulane loss
TULSA, Okla. -- Against a No. 20 Memphis team that's proven to be the class of Conference USA, Tulane's Josh Davis posted his latest in a line of double-doubles.
He hasn't decided yet if he wants to try finding an even higher level of competition.
Chris Crawford set career-highs with 24 points and six 3-pointers, leading the Tigers over Tulane 81-68 Thursday night in the quarterfinals of the Conference USA tournament despite Davis' 18th double-double of the season.
Davis, a junior, had 21 points and 15 rebounds and said afterward that he hadn't decided if it would be his last college game.
"I haven't made any decisions," Davis said. "As of now, I'm coming back."
Davis had at least 20 points and 15 rebounds in a game for the fourth time this season, and the eighth-seeded Green Wave (19-14) were able to limit Memphis' inside game. But that left Crawford open to do damage outside.
"I thought we did some good things making it tough for them to score inside, and he was the guy that really gave them that 3-point threat and stretched our defense and knocked them down at a high rate," Tulane coach Ed Conroy said.
It was the second straight game and third time in the last four that Crawford put up his new best scoring total of the season. He's averaging 19.5 points over the last four games, after scoring 8.3 per game in the first 24.
He started the first 10 games of the season before coach Josh Pastner convinced him to be the Tigers' top reserve.
"When he first told me, I was looking at him like he was crazy. I wasn't feeling it at first," Crawford said. "But I'm a team guy, so I was willing to sacrifice for my teammates. I'm just trying to do whatever it takes to win.
"We're an unselfish team. That's just me being unselfish as a teammate and knowing that I've got my guys' backs."
The top-seeded Tigers (28-4) took control by scoring the final 14 points of the first half, with Crawford hitting a pair of 3-pointers and then soaring for a right-handed dunk on a fast break to finish it off and make it 44-27. D.J. Stephens also had a two-handed slam and a putback during the big burst.
Crawford made five of his seven 3-point tries in the first half, and eighth-seeded Tulane (19-14) could never get closer than 10 after that.
"Chris has learned that he is an energy guy. He is at his best when he is positive energy," Pastner said. "He's not a focus guy because he is so cerebral as a player. He is an energy guy, and when he is positive energy, it is contagious, it radiates, it's enthusiastic throughout our whole team and it makes his individual play that much better.
"I'm so proud of Chris with his positive energy. That's why he's at a high level right now -- a very, very high level."
Davis did his best to keep Tulane close.
"There's no question he's a pro. He's a double-double machine and he's good," Pastner said. "Josh Davis is a very, very good basketball player. He plays tremendously hard, he's an energy-giver, quick jumper. No question he'll play at the next level."
Jordan Callahan chipped in 18 points and also tied Michael Christian's Tulane record, set in 1989-90, with 77 3-pointers on the season. The Green Wave finished with their most wins since the 1999-2000 season.
"Going forward, I think this team has laid a foundation of how we want to play -- the attacking, aggressive style," Conroy said. "I think they'll see the results as we go forward."
Memphis, trying to win its seventh conference tournament in eight years, won its 22nd straight game in the series between the two teams.
Tulane strung together eight straight points to close the deficit to 48-38 after Kendall Timmons' free throw with 15:47 left, but Memphis answered right away with its own 10-2 burst. Crawford hit another 3-pointer and then two free throws after getting fouled on another 3-point shot, and Geron Johnson's 3 restored the lead to 58-40.
The Green Wave were able to sustain Memphis' opening barrage of 3-pointers and dunks and keep it close for about 14 minutes before the well ran dry against the Tigers' defense. Davis' three-point play off a drive to the basket got Tulane within 28-25 with 7:06 left in the first half, but the Green Wave didn't make another basket the rest of the half.
Louis Dabney hit two free throws with 5:59 to go before halftime, and Memphis didn't allow another point before the break. Stephens blocked Ricky Tarrant's shot in the lane to set the tone, and the Tigers forced two shot-clock violations in the final 5 minutes of the half.
Tulane had 13 turnovers -- already over its average of 12.2 per game -- by halftime and finished with 15.
"Their depth and their ability and the energy they play with, they can explode on you in those 3-minute and 4-minute runs. That's what they really did to us at the end of the first half," Conroy said. "We've been close with them all three years that we've played them and had leads in second half. I this team can explode on you as quick as any of the teams that we've seen because of their depth."
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press
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