Memphis fights back in overtime to beat pesky Arkansas State

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Memphis coach Josh Pastner was more upset, disappointed and generally ticked off at his Tigers (No. 15 ESPN/USA Today, No. 14 AP) than at any other point in his one-plus years as coach.

And he didn't mince words after seeing his team go through the motions, get extended to overtime and finally escape with a 78-71 victory over Arkansas State on Wednesday night.

"This is my second year as head coach," Pastner said. "I have never been more disappointed in a group of guys and the way they played. Absolutely disappointed in them. We got outplayed by Arkansas State, and we were fortunate to get the 'W.'

"I am extremely upset right now. I am so disappointed in our effort because there was no sense of urgency."

Will Barton scored 20 points and helped Memphis (6-0) survive the scare. His 12 second-half points kept the Tigers from squandering an early lead.

"That's my job, to put points on the board," Barton said. "When things are getting ugly, or we're losing or the game is getting close, I put it upon myself to get my team going."

The game was tied at 65 at the end of regulation, and Arkansas State (1-6) got two quick baskets in the extra period. But Memphis scored the next nine points to pull away and escape with its undefeated record intact.

The Red Wolves almost ended a string of losses in the series that dates to 1999. Arkansas State has not won in Memphis since 1990.

"For our team to come out and play like this, in this type environment, was big," Arkansas State coach John Brady said. "I mean, Memphis never loses here [at the FedExForum]. It was a good game for our team. I am a little disappointed that we lost, but I'm certainly proud of the things we did."

Wesley Witherspoon had 12 points for the Tigers, while Joe Jackson and Antonio Barton had 10 apiece.

Daniel Bryant led the Red Wolves with 16 points, including leading a second-half rally with 11 points. They scored the last six points of regulation to send the game into overtime, as Memphis went scoreless over the final 5 minutes.

After Adams scored his two baskets inside for a 69-65 lead in overtime, the Tigers picked up the pace and got to the rim. Jackson had five points in overtime, including a three-point play with 1:11 left to provide Memphis with enough of a buffer at 74-69.

Bryant hit the first of two free throws with 34.1 seconds left in regulation to pull Arkansas State even at 65. Chris Crawford had the last shot for Memphis, but his jumper was short.

"We had a chance to win it," Brady said. "We made a free throw at the end [of regulation], and we may have won the game because they struggled with getting a shot off of any quality."

The Red Wolves, who trailed by as many as 18 points in the first half, shot 50 percent in the second to erase Memphis' lead.

Memphis led 35-24 at halftime, but complacency and sloppy play prevented the Tigers from putting the Red Wolves away in the first half.

The Tigers hit 6 of their first 8 shots, part of offensive pressure that resulted in 16 straight points. That built the lead to 23-5 as Arkansas State went more than 7 minutes without scoring.

Instead of taking advantage of the margin, Memphis let Arkansas State back into the game. The Red Wolves got the deficit under double digits on a couple of occasions before a 3-pointer by Charles Carmouche gave Memphis its halftime lead.

"We took them for granted," Witherspoon said. "We got the lead, and we thought we were just going to pile the points on, and they weren't going for it."

The first half was punctuated by Pastner providing a preview of his postgame frustrations. He repeatedly slammed his hands on the padded top of press row and rode his players, particularly Jackson, the freshman point guard, for his lackadaisical play.

"I struggled from the field," Jackson said. "... I missed a couple of key rebounds during the game. Mental mistakes like that are reasons for Coach to pull me out. It wasn't that he wanted to pull me out. I've just got to play up to that level."

The halftime break didn't wake up Memphis either.

Arkansas State opened the second half with nine straight points to keep the game interesting. The Red Wolves stayed close throughout the half getting Memphis' lead under five on several occasions as the Tigers struggled against the Arkansas State zone defense.

"We changed from man to zone to try and keep them off their rhythm of play a little bit," Brady said.

While Brady was pleased with his team's effort, Pastner never let up on his chastising of his troops and the effort. He repeatedly said that some players seem to think they don't have to work at the college level, that they can just show up. And he is trying to get their attention about that type of play.

He hopes the scare from the Red Wolves will help.

"We were fortunate to get the 'W' [but] I don't want to have any slippage here," Pastner said. "I didn't feel we did a good job defensively. We didn't, obviously, do a good job on the glass. We were loosey-goosey with the basketball. Guys were just loosey-goosey in key spots."