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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Mississippi took a commanding lead in the first half then had to hold on for its sixth straight victory.
Stefan Moody scored 21 points leading five Mississippi players in double figures as the Rebels defeated Memphis 85-79 on Friday night.
The Rebels (9-2) led by as many as 18 in the first half, but had to convert enough free throws down the stretch to prevent Memphis from getting closer than a two-possession game in the final two minutes.
Martavious Newby, who is from Memphis, scored 12 points for the Rebels, seven of them coming from the free-throw line in the closing minutes. He also had 12 rebounds. Rasheed Brooks and Sebastian Saiz added 11 points each, Saiz also grabbing 11 rebounds. Tomasz Gielo added 10 points.
Ricky Tarrant led the Tigers (7-3) with a season-best 29 points. Dedric Lawson had 21 points and 14 rebounds, as Memphis saw its five-game winning streak snapped.
"We didn't come out bringing the energy," Tarrant said. "We let them hit us in the mouth. I think their physicality surprised us."
Memphis changed defenses in the second half and effectively neutralized Moody, limiting him to five points after the break.
"They threw the kitchen sink at us defensively at the end with a triangle-and-2 and then they put two people on Moody," Mississippi coach Andy Kennedy said. "Our guys were still trying to go to Moody. So I said: 'Guys, they're basically saying we're going to play you four on three.'"
Trailing by five with just under two minutes left, Memphis began fouling Newby, a 67 percent free throw shooter. The strategy was not effective enough as Newby converted 5 of the ensuing 8 free throws, and then added the Rebels final two points of the game from the line.
"This was his last chance to play the Tigers and he wanted it so bad," Kennedy said of Newby. "He's our mojo a little bit."
The Rebels built the lead to 18 in the first half keyed by an 18-2 run to break an early tie.
During that span, Memphis missed 12 straight shots, going more than 10 minutes without a field goal.
"The main thing was those guys were a lot more physical than guys we're used to playing against," Lawson said.
Memphis continued to trail by double digits through much of the second half, but Tarrant's 3-pointer with 1:57 left cut the Rebel lead to 76-71, the closest the Tigers would get in the second half.
"I think both teams tested each other," Kennedy said. "I know that we haven't been in an environment with this many people yet, and we're going to see it a few times when we play. Memphis is a talented team."
Mississippi: The Rebels only two losses this season were on neutral courts. . Memphis outrebounded the Rebels 44-42, only the second opponent this season to beat Mississippi on the boards. . Newby started his second straight game after coming off the bench in five of the previous six games.
Memphis: Dedric Lawson converted a shot from well outside the arc as the horn to end the first half sounded, cutting the Rebel lead to 12. . Memphis coach Josh Pastner got a technical with 7:17 left when he vehemently argued an offensive foul call on Lawson. Pastner jumped up, waving his arms and screaming at the officials. . Shaq Goodwin had 15 rebounds for the Tigers.
LIGHTS OUT - The start of the game was delayed about an hour after a power outage in downtown Memphis affected the electricity at the FedExForum. Emergency lights kicked on immediately after the power went out. Full power returned about 15 minutes after the scheduled 7 p.m. CST tipoff. Officials moved the start to 50 minutes later for the lights to reach full power and the teams to warm up.
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