Feb 04 2014
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Memphis made a concentrated effort to pound the ball inside early, and freshman forward Austin Nichols benefited from the strategy.

Nichols scored 18 points, and Joe Jackson added 16 points and eight assists as the 24th-ranked Tigers jumped to an early lead before dominating Rutgers 101-69 on Tuesday night.

The Tigers (17-5, 7-3 American Athletic Conference) hit a season-high 12 3-pointers and shot 59 percent, also a best this season. Nichols was 8 of 9 from the field, and Jackson hit all but one of his seven shots. Memphis worked the ball to Nichols from the start, and he had 13 points before the midway point of the first half.

“Our philosophy was to go inside out and that’s what we did,” said Memphis guard Chris Crawford, who had 12 points and 11 rebounds. “Austin was great for us. We had an inside presence early, and it opened up for the guards on the outside.”

Memphis, which won its seventh game in the last nine, never trailed and led by as many as 41 points in the second half as the Tigers rebounded from an 87-72 loss at SMU on Saturday.

Michael Dixon scored 15 points, Shaq Goodwin added 13 and Geron Johnson had 12 for Memphis.

“Establishing the post presence early on in the game set everything else up,” Memphis coach¬†Josh Pastner¬†said. “I love that Austin Nichols went 8 of 9 from the floor. He and Shaq Goodwin had some great moves down there below the rim.”

Pastner later added: “We are just a better team when we play through the post.”