LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Joe Jackson and Shaq Goodwin each scored 15 points and No. 24 Memphis rallied late for a 73-67 upset of No. 12 Louisville on Thursday night.
Geron Johnson added 13 points, Chris Crawford 12 and Austin Nichols 10 as all five starters scored in double figures to help the Tigers end a four-game losing streak to the defending national champions. Memphis (11-3, 2-1 American Athletic Conference) shot 51 percent and outrebounded the Cardinals 37-35 in a victory that almost slipped away in the second half.
Trailing 61-55 with 5:26 remaining, the Tigers closed with an 18-6 run led by Jackson, who scored 11 second-half points. His layup on goaltending by Montrezl Harrell put Memphis up 70-67 with 40 seconds left, Crawford added a free throw and Goodwin followed with a dunk in the final second to seal the hard-fought win.
Luke Hancock had a season-high 20 points to lead Louisville (13-3, 2-1).
Memphis was more physical and more aggressive for most of the game but saved its best play for the stretch run to reclaim the lead for good. The Tigers made several big defensive stops to hold the Cardinals scoreless for the final 2:12 and seal a win against their longtime rivals.
Memphis coach Josh Pastner delayed his postgame radio interview while jawing with fans who taunted him about his players’ behavior and the program’s Academic Progress Rate.
The Cardinals missed their third chance to beat a ranked opponent. Louisville shot just 39 percent (25 of 64) and was outscored 42-34 inside.
Russ Smith scored 19 points and Harrell 14 for Louisville, which seemed out of sync after 23 days away from the KFC Yum! Center. The Cardinals’ annual ‘White-Out’ game featured 21,988 dressed in a bright sea of light T-shirts.
Cardinals coach Rick Pitino didn’t participate this time, eschewing last year’s cream-colored suit for a gray tailored outfit. The coach eventually shelved the jacket, possibly because he was steamed by his team’s performance.
Louisville faced a Memphis team coming off Saturday’s 69-53 loss to Cincinnati, a game in which the Tigers were worn down by the end by the physical Bearcats.
Memphis looked much fresher this time in building a 36-33 halftime lead, setting the pace and aggressively driving inside against Louisville. Goodwin was particularly assertive, muscling through Cardinals defenders en route to nine points, including a thunderous transition dunk late in the first half for a 30-25 lead.
Louisville had its chances inside but struggled to make layups in being outscored 24-16 in the paint. During one sequence, the Cardinals missed three tips that led to Jackson’s drive for Memphis’ biggest lead at 32-25.
Things would have been worse for the Cardinals without Hancock, who made five of their seven baskets during one stretch, including both of his 3-pointers. His 6-of-9 shooting was Louisville’s only bright spot during a 13-of-36 half (36 percent) in which it seemed out of sync on its home floor.
Louisville regrouped to start the second half with an 8-3 run to finally lead at 41-39 with 14:54 remaining as Hancock made two of three free throws. Harrell’s turnaround jumper provided the Cardinals’ biggest lead at 61-55 before the Tigers eventually found their game as well.