Memphis 60, Harvard 50
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP)
Crawford, who has struggled offensively lately, was 5 of 10 from the floor, and helped the Tigers (14-3) escape after blowing a 20-point lead.
Shaq Goodwin had 11 points and eight rebounds for Memphis, which won its eighth straight. D.J. Stephens and Joe Jackson finished with 10 points each. Stephens also grabbed eight rebounds and blocked four shots.
Wesley Saunders led the Crimson (9-6) with 11 points, while Steve Moundou-Missi finished with 10 and seven rebounds as Harvard lost for only the second time in the last seven games.
Memphis led by as much as 20, but Harvard was able to overtake the Tigers late in the second half before Crawford took over.
The Tigers' defense smothered Harvard's offense early, holding the Crimson to 5-of-19 shooting (26.3 percent) from the field in the first half. That helped Memphis lead 32-16 at intermission - the lowest point total for the Crimson in a half this season.
Memphis held a 23-16 margin on the boards and forced 13 Harvard turnovers during the first half.
Even though Memphis managed only 36.1 percent shooting (13 of 36), their dominance inside was evident. The Tigers scored 20 of their 32 points in the paint.
Memphis hit its first four shots in the game before missing 15 straight, but Harvard was unable to put a dent in the Memphis advantage, which reached 20 near the 5-minute mark.
Harvard was much better to open the second half. Jonah Travis, who sat most of the first half with foul issues, scored six straight points to kick start 13 unanswered points, including a 3-pointer from Wesley Saunders.
That turned a 20-point Memphis advantage to a 36-29 lead with plenty of time left.
At that point, Memphis' shooting woes were showing. The Crimson, who shot so poorly in the first half, were hitting at a better percentage than the Tigers near the midway point of the second half.
Memphis briefly took the lead back to double digits, but the Crimson answered with 13 straight points to complete the comeback for a 46-44 lead near the 7-minute mark.
The teams exchanged leads over the next few minutes until Memphis built a slight buffer with six straight points, including a basket and a pair of free throws from Crawford for a 54-48 lead with 1:42 left.