Memphis starts year with blow out of Centenary

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Memphis guard Chris Crawford sat quietly on the bench in the first half, a disciplinary victim over classroom matters.

He made up for it in the second half.

Memphis was already up easily at halftime, but Crawford scored 16 points after serving his first-half punishment, hitting all six of his shots from the field as the No. 19 Tigers cruised past Centenary 104-40 on Friday night.

"It was some classroom [stuff]," Crawford said. "It was a little classroom difficulty, and I had to suffer the consequences. I have to learn from it."

Antonio Barton had 17 points to lead the Tigers, who broke out early and never looked back in its season-opener.

Memphis shot 55 percent from the field for the game, including going 14 of 27 from 3-point range. Crawford's perfect night from the field included four from outside the arc. Barton missed only one of his six shots and was perfect on three attempts from 3-point range.

"Once I saw that first one go in, I saw that green light," Crawford said. "I just knew I wasn't going to miss any more. It's a great feeling."

Meanwhile, the Tigers held the Gents to 26 percent shooting.

"Experience, they had it," Centenary coach Adam Walsh said of the difference in the game. "You can't replicate that. There's no way to do it. You can kind of try to do pressure stuff, but nothing compares in front of this type of crowd for the first time."

Angel Garcia scored 14 points for Memphis, while Charles Carmouche and Drew Barham had 13 apiece. Barham led the Tigers with nine rebounds.

Centenary, which plays in the Summit League, was led by six points each from Roman Tubner, Jeron Trotman and Logan Lowery.

Crawford wasn't the only disciplinary issue of the night. Junior Wesley Witherspoon didn't start because he was late for a team meeting. Then there was the status of Memphis freshman Jelan Kendrick, who, according to Tigers coach Josh Pastner, was suspended for the game.

The 6-foot-6 guard from Atlanta, who missed two weeks of preseason practice for "personal reasons," had just been reinstated Nov. 4.

Pastner would not discuss specifics of what led to the suspension. As for Kendrick's future and whether he will return to the team, the coach said he would wait until later to determine that after talking with all the parties, including his coaching staff.

"My big thing is there are consequences for actions," Pastner said. "I'm a big believer in that."

Memphis led 52-20 at halftime behind 10 points from Garcia, and the Tigers shooting 59 percent, including 7 of 11 from long range.

Centenary was never really in the game after Memphis put together a 21-0 run in the first half to build the lead to 31-6.

"It was just unselfishness," Barham said. "People started sharing the ball."

The Gents didn't score for 6½ minutes, and struggled from the field from the start. They didn't get over 20 percent shooting until the latter stages of the first half. They missed 14 of their first 16 shots and misfired on their first eight outside the arc.

They would manage to get to 21 percent before the break, but none of the baskets were easy as Centenary settled for long 3-pointers with minimal success and had trouble when they got to the basket.

The onslaught continued in the second half as Crawford came in and scored all of his points, helping Memphis build the lead to as many as 65 points.

"That's the mentality we've got to have," senior forward Will Coleman said. "Regardless if we are playing a second grade basketball team or a team full of All-Stars, we've got to have the mentality that we never let up off the pedal. Just step on their throats."