Duke looms, No. 9 Memphis finishes off Virginia Tech 69-61

(CNN) – No. 9 Memphis has now won six straight with top-ranked Duke looming Saturday.

Tyren Williams scored a game-high 21 points as the Tigers (23-5, 12-3) held off Virginia Tech 69-61 on Thursday.

“First thing is how we won tonight is how we finished,” Tigers coach Penny Hardaway said. “I’ve never been around the table when a team won and came back from so few leads to win. We were down by 21 a few times and never buckled. I think that is character, hard work and never, ever quitting.”

Williams went 11 of 13 from the floor and added nine rebounds in a game the Tigers shot 56 percent. Chandler Parsons added 18 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. Cameron Reynolds had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds for Memphis.

“We did a good job of rebounding,” Parsons said. “We did a good job of winning the second chances.”

Tech (18-11, 6-9) started the game on a 23-6 run and led 44-30 at halftime. Memphis stayed close in the second half by outscoring Tech 12-8 in the first five minutes and 32-27 in the final eight minutes.

Sean Obi led Tech with 22 points and eight rebounds. Kyshoen Jarrett and Justin Robinson both added 12 points. Robinson added four rebounds.

The game featured two teams that have been battling for a conference title in the Atlantic Coast Conference this season.

“This was a game for both of us,” Tech coach Buzz Williams said. “There was no winner and there’s no loser in this game. Both teams have had an unbelievable regular season.”

The loss was Tech’s fifth in a row.

“There are so many guys that took so many shots, particularly our players,” Williams said. “I feel bad about that. They have put so much effort into the season and gave it their all in a lot of ways. It’s one of those things where I want it a lot more than they do. I feel really bad. That’s all I can say.”

Memphis was down 29-17 after Robinson scored seven consecutive points midway through the first half, but it had little luck making baskets from the floor in the second half.

“I challenged my guys in the second half to really stop scoring and just make it difficult for them to score on offense,” Hardaway said. “That just helped us gain some confidence offensively.”

Following a 12-2 Tech run, Memphis reeled off 11 consecutive points to come back and cut the lead to 43-38 with 14:07 remaining.

For the game, Memphis shot 60 percent and Tech was 33.7 percent from the floor. Tech also shot 40 percent from the line while Memphis was 10-of-14. The Tigers also shot 52 percent from three-point range.

Tech had 21 assists and was 17-of-22 from the free throw line. Memphis had 10 assists and was 10-of-12 from the line.

“We couldn’t get into a good flow offensively,” Hardaway said. “They were really dialed in defensively. I thought we had a tough time controlling their energy. They are a scrappy bunch. I thought they were very disciplined and ran their offense really well.”

While both teams have had similar play throughout the conference season, Tech will look to break the losing streak against UNC-Wilmington on Saturday.

“We have to pick it up offensively,” Williams said. “I know we are not going to win if we’re not at 100 percent.”

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